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Anderton Speech Notes for Clubs NZ AGM

Jim Anderton Associate Minister of Health

Speech Notes for Clubs NZ AGM Sunday 21 March 2004

James Hay Theatre, Christchurch Town Hall.

Introduction

President Peter Kelly, Chief Executive Roger Parton and members of Clubs NZ - thank you for the invitation to address your AGM today.

I pass on an apology from my parliamentary colleague, Damien O'Connor who is recovering from oral surgery at the moment. He says 'I can assure you he'd rather be here with us!'

Clubs NZ has long been a part our country’s fabric, representing New Zealand’s diverse clubs since the organisation’s establishment back in 1912.

Today you continue to thrive with well over 300 Clubs, representing nearly a quarter of a million members.

Your continued success is evidence of your ability to adjust to the demands of consistently changing times, and to focus on continued improvement.

In my role as Associate Minister of Health, there are two issues I know you would wish me to speak on today.

Firstly, the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Act 2003, and secondly, the Gambling Act 2003, and problem gambling in particular.

Changes to the laws around smoke-free environments and gambling last year will have implications for clubs throughout New Zealand.

I want to thank you for your active involvement throughout the process in which these changes were developed and voted on in Parliament.

You put a lot of effort into ensuring the views of your members and relevant research and information, was considered by the Select Committee and MPs.

In particular, I acknowledge the dedication that people like Roger Parton, BJ Smith, Adrian Mattinson and John Corbett have put into working on smoke-free and problem gambling matters. Your input is appreciated, and I’m sure the legislation is the better for it.

Smoke-free Environments

I would like to begin by discussing the recent changes to the smokefree environments legislation.

As you will be aware, from 10 December this year all indoor areas of clubs that are workplaces or licensed premises will be required to be smoke-free.

I understand that you are concerned that clubs should not be covered by the new smoke-free provisions because clubs are different, clubs are private premises for members only.

However, most clubs are also places of employment, and many clubs are also licensed premises that sell liquor. Both aspects place clubs in the public arena, and it is only fair that clubs are therefore subject to the same requirements as other employers or licensed premises – that is, to provide a safe working environment for your employees and volunteers, and to meet the various regulations around the sale of liquor.

After a lengthy process over four years, Parliament carefully considered the complex issues involved and has now voted on, and passed the smoke-free environments legislation.

It is now time to focus on how we can assist you to achieve implementation with the amendments from the end of this year.

Change can be positive, but it inevitably brings with it uncertainty, which can be difficult for some people. And to make it even tougher, issues around smoking and smoke-free hospitality venues can be contentious.

There is a lot of contradictory information about, for example, whether ventilation works or doesn’t work, and whether smoke-free bars spell economic ruin or booming business.

I encourage you to have faith, and hang in there until the new changes settle in. Remember what happened in 1990, when there were all sorts of ‘doom and gloom’ predictions about what smoke-free offices would mean.

That was very threatening for some people, but here we are 14 years later with New Zealanders taking for granted clean air in offices and other indoor workplaces.

Some smokers have quit, and some smokers have continued to smoke while respecting other people’s right to be free from the dangers of second-hand smoke.

The public has overwhelmingly embraced the smoke-free philosophy, and in over a decade there have been only 2 workplace prosecutions.

I want to reassure you that this law is about removing the health hazard of second-hand smoke, and reflecting a growing cultural trend for what the average New Zealander wants – clean safe air.

Society has been heading in this direction for years now, and as some of you would have already realised, it was inevitable that it was only a matter of time before the demand for smoke-free areas extended to other places, including clubs.

The law change is a positive one. It gives us the opportunity to protect our health and be positive role models for our children.

Yes, we can expect some bumps in the transition as everyone works hard to understand the smoke-free law and make the changes.

I know you are keen to get started on adjusting to the changes straightaway, and may be frustrated by delays to people answering your questions.

Your questions are a priority to them and the Ministry of Health has a team working hard to get you the information you need as soon as possible.

For example, the Ministry is currently working on some policy guidelines around what kind of area is not ‘substantially enclosed’. You will have clear practical answers in respect of what is an ‘outside’ area in the vast majority of situations.

Other issues will include exactly what you need to do to comply with the new law change from 10 December.

There is a wide range of organisations and sectors who are affected by the law changes, and who all want information for their particular situation.

Ministry staff are helping clubs, businesses, schools, retailers, employers, manufacturers and many more to work through all relevant issues.

For those worried about enforcement issues, I remind you that it is a matter of common sense and reasonableness.

The focus of smokefree officers and public health people will emphatically be on helping you to achieve compliance and educating the public, not descending en masse to ‘catch you out’.

Having said that, it is hoped that this good faith approach is reciprocated.

It is in all our interests that you join with the Ministry of Health and implementation team in working co-operatively to achieve a positive and reasonable outcome by 10 December.

In terms of your own enforcement, I imagine you may experience some initial resistance to change.

It will be no different from your club enforcing liquor rules, and standards of behaviour such as dress code and language in terms of saying “sorry mate, we’re not allowed to serve alcohol to under-18’s or allow smoking in here. Could you please order a non-alcoholic drink or stub out the cigarette, that would be great, thanks”.

As with any change, we need to be flexible and patient. In the long term we will all look back and see these new changes to smoke-free bars and restaurants as a positive change for the vast majority of people, club members and managers, smokers and non-smokers alike.

Let me draw an analogy about a similar issue that may have worried you a few years ago.

When campaigns to address drink-driving were first introduced there was widespread fear about there being public resistance, a detrimental impact on hospitality revenues, and a rash of enforcement problems.

However today there has been a significant shift in our culture, and the expectation of not drinking and driving is the norm. We take this for granted and every New Zealander is safer on the roads for that change.

There have also been some alarmist stories from some quarters about the impact of smoke-free bans on business.

Much was made of the initial impact of smoke-free bans in Victoria, with gaming revenues dropping 10% for the first few months. But they have progressively bounced back.

The same occurred in California when they implemented smoke-free law in 1998, and in New York which became smoke-free in 2003.

Dire predictions were made about the economic impact of going smoke-free, based on the popular myth of a “30% downturn”.

But figures in these jurisdictions show they have experienced a buoyant growth in employment and bar revenues in the hospitality area since becoming smoke-free.

And both hospitality employees and the patrons have been happy with the result.

Our law change is straightforward and simple for everyone to understand and accept.

Unlike some other countries, we are facing one smoke-free rule for all, from one date in the calendar, without long lists of exceptions and grey areas.

And if the Irish can have smoke-free pubs, I am sure we can make it work in New Zealand.

Already we know that a majority of New Zealanders support smoke-free hospitality venues – including most smokers.

A New Zealand survey in 2003 flagged that only 11% of respondents would be less likely to go to a pub, bar or nightclub if they were totally smoke-free – compared to 53% who thought it would make no difference to them, and 35% who said they would be more likely to go out if a bar or club was smoke-free.

Bill Stirling in Horowhenua has written in your Interclub newsletter about the revelation of being in New South Wales during the smoke-free ban; how the scare-mongering and arguments pointed to economic disaster for clubs there, but gradually people realised only about a quarter of adults smoked – and slowly but surely business started to boom.

I share Bill’s vision that transition takes time, but ultimately the law change may even revitalise clubs in New Zealand and encourage greater membership participation from the non-smoking majority.

It is not the intention of the law changes to pick on smokers.

Protecting non-smokers from second-hand smoke does not need to take anything away from smokers.

I know that some of you are keen to start altering your premises now, to ensure there are places for your loyal smoking members to continue to smoke.

That is fine, but I also encourage you to stop and think for a moment about the 75% of people who don’t smoke.

Before you spend big dollars on alterations, perhaps you may wish to survey your members and find out if smoking areas are actually needed.

After all, think about how many non-smoking members and families you may have on club lists who have been staying away from club social activities because of the second-hand smoke, and how your profits and membership may improve by promoting your club premises and events as friendly, clean air environments.

The law is intended to have low compliance costs - remove ash trays and put up a few no-smoking signs.

Surveys regularly indicate that 70% to 80% of smokers wish to quit or have tried to quit.

For those smokers in that 25% minority, most are happy to adjust their lifestyle to avoid hurting others with their habit.

Some have said to me that the smoke-free bans will encourage them to quit smoking and improve their longevity and health.

I have heard anecdotal stories from New Zealand clubs as diverse as elite yachting clubs and working-class clubs that have gone smoke-free voluntarily – with great success for the club and its members.

For example, the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club went smoke-free a few years ago.

A club with a long history (120 years) and about 1,000 members, Port Nicholson found members’ families often went home straight after a race, unwilling to trade a day of fresh sea air for a smoky bar.

But since going smoke-free (with over three-quarters voting in support of it), Port Nicholson has enjoyed a renaissance in its post-race social events, with people staying to chat about the day in an enjoyable smoke-free environment.

Petone’s Rugby League Club has also gone smoke-free, taking one step further to declare both their sports fields and their indoor bar area smoke-free in 2003.

This move was done for their members, with the aim of focusing on a family-friendly sporting environment and presenting a positive image for the young ones.

It has been successful in attracting members’ families to the clubrooms to socialise in a safe and enjoyable place.

And I am sure you have your own local stories with a similar outcome.

Gambling

I would now like to turn briefly to another challenge facing Clubs NZ, that of the new Gambling Act. The coalition Government is taking a comprehensive approach to deal with problem gambling.

There are a number of agencies involved –the key ones being the Ministry of Health, the Department of Internal Affairs, the Inland Revenue Department and local government.

I do not mean to be alarmist, however, the statistics speak for themselves.

There have been significant numbers of new callers ringing the Gambling Problem Helpline every year since its establishment.

Coupled with this, there has been a remarkable growth in the numbers of gaming machines in New Zealand over the last decade, and in most other forms of gambling.

Losses by gamblers in New Zealand topped $1.8 billion in the 2002/2003 year, with non-casino gaming machines contributing over half of this figure.

It should also be noted, that in 2003, around three-quarters of callers to the Gambling Problem Helpline said that non-casino gaming machines were the primary cause of their gambling problem.

These statistics, and numerous others, show why a comprehensive public health approach is so critical, and it is pleasing to me that Clubs NZ too has recognised that problem gambling is a serious issue, and that gambling operators have a role to play in preventing gambling harm.

The proactive approach Clubs NZ has taken in addressing the issue of problem gambling is an excellent example of the forward thinking attitude the organisation takes.

I applaud you for the initiative you have taken in adopting the ClubSafe programme.

I understand that 1600 staff and members in New Zealand have been put through this training – designed to assist staff to provide a safer and more responsible gambling environment for all concerned.

I also note that Clubs NZ has installed its own 0800 helpline, staffed by trained counsellors, for staff and members needing information and assistance, and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

All this prevention work bodes well for your members – it shows leadership, it sets you apart as forward thinkers.

You have institutional knowledge and expertise that will make an important contribution to the dialogue we need to continue having about ways of tackling gambling harm – a key objective of the new Gambling Act, which came into force late last year.

The new smoke-free changes may also assist indirectly in addressing some of the elements of problem gambling among smokers.

While not all gamblers smoke and not all smokers gamble, studies from Australia’s gambling industry have indicated that smokers in Victoria, for example, represent 36% of players but contribute 50% of the gambling revenue.

Research has found that daily smokers are more likely to crave gambling and lose control over their gambling.

Requiring a compulsive smoking gambler to pause and go to an outside area if they wish to smoke may assist to interrupt the psychological “trance-inducing ritual” behaviour of compulsive gambling that is reinforced by smoking, while continuing to allow non-problem gamblers to gamble and/or smoke equally in moderation.

We cannot afford to be ad hoc or hit and miss about our approach to problem gambling, and indeed, gambling as a whole, and the input from different sectors across New Zealand is important in ensuring we address the issue successfully.

Under the Act, the Department of Internal Affairs will continue to administer the rules and regulations for gambling, and monitor the gambling industry to ensure compliance.

This month all territorial/local authorities must have developed policies for gambling venues i.e. pokie bars and TABs in their districts.

Communities must be involved in developing this policy – and no doubt Clubs NZ has made constructive representations to New Zealand’s local authorities bodies around their policies.

The Ministry of Health will have a new role in preventing and minimising gambling harm.

It will fund and coordinate problem gambling services, raise public awareness of the risks of problem gambling, and conduct in-depth research about problem gambling in New Zealand so the best approaches to it can be identified.

New Zealand is a world leader in taking a public health approach to problem gambling – for too long the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff has been relied upon to address the harm caused by gambling.

We have built a strong and successful track record in our public health approaches – including programmes around alcohol, tobacco and mental illness.

The Ministry of Health has developed a comprehensive strategy to address problem gambling.

The Ministry will be providing services across the board from primary prevention, through to intervention services.

Clubs NZ will get an opportunity to comment on the Ministry’s proposed approach through consultation on the ‘Preventing and Minimising Gambling Harm’ document – an integrated problem gambling strategy to be available for consultation from 24 March.

This will set out the proposed approach for addressing gambling harm – what services are needed and where they should be located, the funding needed to set up and deliver programmes and services, and the proposed problem gambling levy rates for the relevant gambling sectors.

The costs of delivering the problem gambling strategy, including intervention services, health promotion and education, research and evaluation will be recovered from the gambling sector via the problem gambling levy.

The levy will be collected by IRD.

While there may be some concern across the gambling industry that the Ministry will be using the problem gambling levy as a “cash cow”, I can categorically assure you that the levy will be used solely for problem gambling services, and will not be siphoned off into other health areas.

All money from the levy is ring-fenced for problem gambling services.

I can also assure you, that in its third year of assuming responsibility for the funding and coordination of problem gambling services, the Ministry of Health will not be asking for the $25 million figure that some fear it will be.

Furthermore, while the Ministry’s funding proposals and levy rates are still being approved by Cabinet for consultation, I can tell you that they will be far lower than some of the figures bandied around in recent months, which are both inaccurate and unhelpful.

The Ministry of Health’s proposed levy rate for consultation, for non-casino gaming machines operators is likely to be under 1.25 percent.

This rate will be set for 3 years, so operators can rest easy that there won’t be a changing of the rate from year to year.

The Ministry of Health is aware that concern has been raised over the impact of the problem gambling levy on funding for the sports and recreation, and community sectors. However, it anticipates that the proposed problem gambling levy amount is unlikely to reduce gambling industry funding for communities, from the amount provided in the 2003/04 year, a concern of clubs and communities alike.

In fact, most clubs operating non-casino gaming machines are likely to pay considerably less under the Ministry’s proposed levy rate, than they did in the 2003/04 year.

The levy is now based on player losses, rather than the previous fee per machine.

This is a fairer approach, since, as the intensity of use of gaming machines increases – so does the potential to cause harm.

It is only fair that societies that generate the most money, contribute their share to addressing problem gambling.

In most cases, these are the large hotel based trusts and national trusts operating machines on commercial premises.

The Ministry of Health will consult with the gambling sector, problem gambling service providers and other significantly affected groups and will present its proposed strategy, levy amount and individual levy rates to a meeting facilitated by the newly-created Gambling Commission, which will include gambling industry representatives.

The Commission will make a final recommendation to the Ministers of Internal Affairs and Health on the levy amount.

I encourage Clubs NZ to make a submission on the Ministry’s consultation document when it is released.

The practical insights and learnings that you have gained around gambling and gambling harm will be welcomed, and genuinely considered.

Thank you again for inviting me to speak, on behalf of Damien O'Connor at your AGM.

I hope you have a constructive day. Now Nemu Lallu from the Ministry of Health will speak in more detail about current progress on gambling matters.

END

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