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Smokefree SOP To Health Committee Speech

Hon Tariana Turia

11 October 2001 Speech Notes

Referral of Judy Keall's Smokefree Supplementary Order Paper to the Health Select Committee, Parliament, Wellington

Mr Speaker, I welcome the introduction by Judy Keall of a Supplementary Order Paper (No. 148) to the Smoke-free Environments (Enhanced Protection) Amendment Bill, currently before the House. These new proposals will provide all New Zealanders with greater protection from the dangers of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke.

The Bill, as amended by the SOP, provides for smokefree workplaces and educational institutions. The SOP also requires bars and restaurants and casinos to be either completely smokefree or to provide separate smoking rooms with their own ventilation systems, to ensure non-smoking areas are protected.

The Bill reflects three principles:

1. More effective protection for workers from Second-Hand Smoke,

2. Enhancement of a smokefree lifestyle for people under 18 years of age, and

3. More consumer information for smokers.

In order to protect non-smokers from Second-Hand Smoke the Bill will:

1. Provide for smokefree indoor workplaces, except in designated areas that are not a part of a common air space shared with non-smokers. As the law currently stands, provisions for smokefree workplaces largely apply to offices, not other working environments.

2. Require that hospitality venues (bars, restaurants and casinos) are smokefree, except in enclosed areas that are ventilated separately, and that can be no more than 50 percent of the space to which the public has access. This will protect workers from the high levels of second-hand smoke in hospitality venues. In addition, this would provide the public, 75% of whom, are not smokers, with protection from second-hand smoke.

This legislation will not prohibit people from smoking, or mean that the hospitality industry could not allow smoking in venues. It would simply set a minimum standard in those venues for protection from exposure to second-hand smoke.

Despite claims by the tobacco and hospitality industries internationally, that going smokefree would harm the hospitality industry, evidence and published research shows quite clearly that:

- restrictions on smoking in hospitality venues do not adversely affect business, jobs or tourism, since a large proportion of the public wants smokefree workplaces and hospitality venues

- smokefree workplaces can save employers money, through less maintenance costs, less staff absenteeism and less sickness.

- ventilation and air filtering alone cannot effectively protect people from second-hand smoke exposure.

- restrictions on smoking are generally supported by the public. Voluntary compliance is high in jurisdictions that have restricted smoking in hospitality venues.

In line with enhancing a smokefree lifestyle for people under 18 years, the Bill, with its Supplementary Order Paper, will:

- Provide that all educational institutions (except tertiary institutions) be smokefree, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except in designated smoking rooms not accessible by, or visible to, students,

- make it an offence to supply tobacco to minors (with exemptions for family members) as well as the current offence to sell tobacco to minors, and

- allow Judges to ban a person or business from selling tobacco products for a period of time, if they have repeatedly sold cigarettes to minors.

So as to ensure that people who smoke are as well informed as possible of the risks of smoking, the Bill will:

- provide for future regulations on pictorial as well as written health warnings on tobacco and herbal smoking products, in order to better inform consumers of the health effects of smoking.

- provide for future regulations requiring more detailed disclosure of the constituents of tobacco products. This could include packet inserts to provide consumers with product information.

In addition, the Bill will

- restrict the sale and supply of herbal smoking products to minors,

- ensure tobacco vending machines could be operated by staff only, and

- restrict the display of tobacco products in retail outlets to ensure that shop displays are not used to promote the sale of tobacco products or to promote smoking behaviour.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

SMOKEFREE WORKPLACES INCLUDING BARS AND RESTAURANTS

What level of public support exists for the changes?

Public opinion has changed over the years and there are now calls for greater protection for non-smokers from other people’s smoke. 75 percent of the adult public are non-smokers. A recent Wellington School of Medicine survey showed that 73 percent of hospitality workers support restrictions on smoking in bars.

Do any other countries ban smoking in cafes, restaurants, casinos and bars?

A significant number of jurisdictions in Canada, the USA and Australia have legislation relating to smokefree bars and restaurants enacted at the state/provincial level. The populations of many of those states or provinces will often be comparable to the whole of New Zealand's population. In the US there are 182 jurisdictions which require 100 percent smokefree workplaces including restaurants. 58 jurisdictions have smokefree bars (several of them in the state of California where all restaurants and bars are entirely smokefree). Consequently the changes proposed under the SOP are consistent with what has been implemented recently in comparable jurisdictions.

What has been the impact of these enhanced protection measures overseas?

Research in California showed an improvement in bar workers’ heath after the law ensuring 100 percent smokefree bars and restaurants took effect. There has been a high level of acceptance where jurisdictions have introduced such laws. In some jurisdictions, such as the Australian Capital Territory, changes were introduced in stages, starting with dining areas and progressing to all licensed premises with allowance for transitional periods.

How has going smokefree affected business in restaurants and bars?

Business has not shown a downturn in places like California where smoking was banned in restaurants and bars. Some studies even point to an improvement in business, for example California’s sales tax collection agency revealed increases in sales by the businesses involved. The predicted loss of income and jobs did not happen.

Aren’t employers already obliged by the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 to ensure a safe workplace?

The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, with its general obligation to provide a safe working environment, continues to apply along with the more specific requirements in the Smokefree legislation.

Can restaurant/bar owners just provide sufficient ventilation?

Available evidence shows that ventilation and air filtration systems are not effective in removing all tobacco constituents that pose health threats to non-smokers, including employees, who are exposed to Second-Hand Smoke, and should not be considered a feasible alternative to smoke-free provisions with regards to reducing tobacco-related harm.

How long will restaurant and bar owners have, to comply with the new provisions?

The new provisions would apply to new premises, and to all premises from January 2007.

Is exposure to second-hand smoke really a serious health problem?

Second hand smoke is more than an inconvenience -- it is a serious health issue. Each year, 388 New Zealanders die from exposure to second-hand smoke on top of the approximately 4,500 deaths directly from smoking.

What impact has the smokefree legislation had on tobacco consumption so far?

In the past ten years, tobacco consumption has fallen from 1662 cigarette equivalents to 1113 cigarette equivalents - a decrease of 53 percent. Over the same time, smoking rates fell from 29 percent to 25 percent.

The smoking rates of young people and Maori are of particular concern. Overseas studies suggest that focusing on the effects of exposure to second-hand smoke, and smoking cessation programmes (particularly media campaigns) can be effective in reducing smoking rates, including the smoking rates of young people.

ENHANCING SMOKEFREE NORMS FOR THOSE UNDER 18

Why ban self-service sales from vending machines?

Although the Smokefree Environments Amendment Act 1997 restricted the placement of vending machines to restricted areas, people under 18 are still accessing cigarettes from vending machines. Under the proposed changes vending machines would need to be placed behind bars or counters and the tobacco purchased for customers by the staff. This will ensure access to these machines is restricted.

Have any other countries taken similar action by banning self service vending machines?

Thailand has had a total ban on selling cigarettes by vending machine since 1992. In Tasmania vending machines are allowed on licensed premises and must be supervised by an adult. The Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia are investigating ways to strengthen restrictions to access to vending machines.

How long would someone who repeatedly sold tobacco to minors be prohibited from selling tobacco products?

Not longer than three months.

Why ban sales of herbal cigarettes to under 18s, when the product doesn't contain tobacco?

There are health concerns with the inhalation of smoke from herbal products just as there are with tobacco. The carcinogenic effects on the lungs of the residue of smoke are well-documented, whether the substance being smoked is tobacco or another product.

Do any other countries have similar bans in place on herbal cigarettes?

Yes. There are five Australian states, South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania, which have banned sales of herbal cigarettes to people under 18.

Why make it an offence to supply tobacco to minors?

Reports from smokefree offices and retailers suggest that some adults are buying cigarettes and supplying them to under-18 year olds. Creating an offence to supply sends a message that it is not OK to help young people become addicted to tobacco. While this provision would be challenging to enforce, the deterrent value would further restrict young people’s access to tobacco. The maximum penalty would be debated at Select Committee. For comparison, the maximum penalty for a retailer who is convicted of selling tobacco to a minor is $2000 and fines usually range between $100 - $800.

How much money do tobacco sales generate for the Government?

Revenue from excise tax in recent years is about $700-million per year. The balance goes into the Government's Consolidated Fund for application across all areas of spending.

How much of that money is injected back into tobacco control?

The estimated cost of treating tobacco related illness is approximately $200-million per year. In addition, the Government spends more than $28.3 million each year on cessation programmes (such as the subsidized nicotine patches and gum programme and the Quitline), health promotion and enforcement of legislation.

What is the process for implementing the changes and how long will it take?

The implementation and form of the changes will depend on the decisions of the Health Select Committee. The Health Select committee would be inviting submissions from the public to inform their consideration of the Bill and the Supplementary Order Paper.

ENDS


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