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Smoke-Free Legislation A Significant Step Forward

4 December 2003

Media Release

New smoke-free legislation a significant step forward

The Ministry of Health says yesterday's passing of a significant piece of public health legislation will greatly enhance protections for workers, volunteers, and the public against exposure to second-hand smoke.

The Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill 2003 was passed by Parliament yesterday (and now awaits Royal assent).

A key element of the Bill is universal protection for all workers regardless of what type of indoor environment they work in, and this significantly strengthens existing laws, says Ministry Public Health Programmes Manager Graeme Gillespie.

Mr Gillespie says most, but not all, of the provisions of the Bill will come into effect within the next year. In summary, the main provisions of the Bill include:

- All indoor workplaces will be required to be completely smoke free within 12 months, including factories, taxis and hospitality venues (including licensed clubs). The definition of "workplace" includes areas such as lifts, toilets, corridors or other common internal areas which are attached to or which form part of a workplace. The only exceptions to the 100% smoke free requirement in the Bill will be for some work vehicles, and temporary home-like environments such as hotel rooms and prison cells.

- Schools and early childhood centres (excluding tertiary, eg universities and polytechnics) will be required to be completely smoke free indoors and outdoors at all times. Other places of learning for children under 18, excluding tertiary, will be required to be smoke free indoors while children are being taught there.

- Only staff of licensed premises will be permitted to activate cigarette vending machines (by remote control), to prevent under-18's accessing tobacco and herbal smoking products.

- Herbal smoking products as well as tobacco and toy cigarettes are now only available for sale to people over 18 years old. Courts will have the ability to prohibit retailers who have been repeatedly convicted of selling tobacco products to minors from selling tobacco products for a period of up to three months.

- Display of tobacco products at each point of sale (cash register) will be limited to 100 packages and 40 cartons, with only two of each brand, unless the retailer is a specialist tobacconist. Each point of sale will be required to display a prominent "smoking kills" sign; co-packaging is banned; and tobacco products should be further than one metre away from products marketed towards children (eg confectionery).

- Smoke free officers, responsible for encouraging compliance with the legislation, will now have powers to enter and inspect premises which are subject to the Bill's provisions, at a reasonable time. Enforcement officers will be required to produce their "instrument of appointment" (delegation) when exercising their powers. Under the Bill, enforcement officers may take for evidence: photographs, videos or air samples, as well as inspect advertising or display material for the purposes of investigating compliance with the Bill. Dwelling houses and other residential accommodation are excluded from the power of entry and inspection under the Bill, except with the consent of the occupier.

More information about the Bill, as well as questions and answers, are available on a Ministry of Health website: www.ndp.govt.nz/smokefreelaw.html

ENDS


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