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Smoking bill defeat blow to freedom

Smoking bill defeat blow to freedom

Dr Muriel Newman Thursday,

28 July 2005 Press Releases - Other

ACT Deputy Leader Dr Muriel Newman said today the defeat of her Smoke- Free Environments (Exemptions) Amendment Bill was a blow to people's freedom of choice and the rights of New Zealand's small businesses.

The Bill provided for licensed premises to set up smoking rooms for their smoking patrons instead of forcing them outside, such smoking rooms were to be equipped with ventilation devices and to comply with appropriate air quality standards whether or not an establishment decided to set up such rooms was to be their choice.

"I do not smoke, but I believe the Labour Government's smoke-free legislation, passed by Parliament 18 months ago, has created unintended consequences that need to be addressed.

"The primary effect of the smoke-free law is that many people are no longer bothering to go to their local pub or club because of the hassle of being forced to smoke outside in the cold. As a result some small businesses have seen their patronage drop by a half while others have been forced to close. And it's not just the pub and club owners but also the other business that provide goods and services, such as food beverage, maintenance, cleaning and so on," Dr Newman said.

"There is also a growing trend for illegal drinking houses to be set up in private garages and sheds, where there are no liquor licences or smoking police, but also no safeguards - is this what Labour intended?

"But the issue I am most concerned about is the heavy handed approach to elderly New Zealanders. There are many RSA members who have served this country risking their lives fighting for the freedoms that the Labour Government is now stripping away.

"Labour is forcing returned servicemen to smoke outside. They should simply be allowed to smoke in a smoking room set up by their RSA instead of sitting outside in the cold. That's what this Bill was asking for and it's a huge disappointment to people up and down the country that the anti-business Labour Government is so arrogant that they are refusing to allow their problematic law to be reviewed," Dr Newman said.

ENDS

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