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Labour's Credibility Up In Smoke

Labour's Credibility Up In Smoke

ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy today slammed the Government's proposed Smokefree Bill, calling it so flawed that even Labour's own Ministers are calling for it to be watered down.

"If passed, the Smokefree Bill will place much stronger constraints on smoking in public places than the public originally anticipated - so strong, in fact, that some Ministers are asking for the law to be loosened to allow smoking in certain organisations and clubs," Mrs Roy said.

"It seems the Government has not really thought this move out. If Sports Minister Trevor Mallard wants the ban relaxed to allow smoking in sports and workingmen's clubs, and the RSA, where then does that leave the ideology behind the Bill? It seems that the Government seems unconcerned with passive smoking illnesses among patrons of these establishments.

"Not only that, but the law itself will, largely, be toothless. While penalties for those who break the law include fines of up to $400 - up to $4,000 for organisations which allow patrons to `light up' - a lack of Health Ministry `smoke police' means that few transgressors will actually be caught.

"In any case, the Government itself has indicated that it does not really want people to be charged for breaking the law - the Bill is, apparently, intended to be `educative'".

"This, of course, begs the question of the whole point of this Bill. It seems that, instead of simply strengthening existing education programmes, Labour prefers to waste bill drafters', Health Ministry officials', submitters' and Parliamentary time.

"Labour's message to smokers is clear - `don't worry, we didn't really mean it'. This is legislation of the worst kind; strong on rhetoric, weak on implementation - much like Labour, really," Mrs Roy said.

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