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Smoke-free Environments (Controls and Enforcement) Amendment


Hon Tariana Turia

Associate Minister of Health

Friday 10 December 2010; 10pm


Parliament Buildings, Wellington

Delivered by Hon Nathan Guy on behalf of the Minister Speech

Hon NATHAN GUY (Minister of Internal Affairs)256GUY, Hon NATHAN21:59:32 I move, That the Smoke-free Environments (Controls and Enforcement) Amendment Bill be now read a first time.
At the appropriate time I intend to move that the bill be referred to the Health Committee for consideration and report back by 8 April 2011.

Firstly, I acknowledge the work of the Māori Affairs Committee on its Inquiry into the Tobacco Industry in Aotearoa and the Consequences of Tobacco Use for Māori. This bill addresses a number of the recommendations in their report but the bill is not the formal Government’s response to the Māori Affairs Committee report. The Government will respond on the report in its entirety in early February next year.

What the inquiry did, which has been invaluable, was put the issue of tobacco addiction on all of our radars. We have heard the personal testimonies of families that have been caused harm by tobacco and how premature deaths have deprived our whānau of their elders. In listening to the debate earlier this year when the tobacco taxation legislation was debated and then very recently in the debate on the tobacco industry inquiry, it was a bitter-sweet moment in our political history.

It was heartening to hear the levels of shared commitment across the House. It was also distressing to hear how many of us have been personally affected by tobacco. We are all starting to understand just how massive an impact tobacco has on New Zealand society, overall. The direct health costs to the Government of tobacco-related harm in New Zealand has been put as high as $1.9 billion per year. The costs to New Zealand society are significantly greater. There is no putting off the fact that action must occur and it must occur now.

The objectives of the bill are simple: to make tobacco less visible and attractive and to make tobacco less accessible. I am confident that over time these measures will be effective in reducing smoking-related harm. I acknowledge the transformation in tobacco control that has evolved over the last two decades since the Smokefree Environments Act 1990 was passed.

This history is one that all MPs should be proud of—for the advances brought in that established a smoke-free New Zealand, instead of indulging in cheap, political point-scoring.

I am extremely mindful of the enthusiasm, passion, and dedicated efforts of a very impressive group of advocates who have invested so much of their time into paving the way for a cleaner, healthier, smoke-free world.

There will inevitably be some compliance costs associated with this bill. Tobacco retailers will have to modify their shop-fittings to comply. The bill has been drafted so that all retailers must remove retail displays within 6 months after the bill comes into force, except for those classes of retailers who are allowed exemptions up to 2 years through regulations. The bill does not allow any longer exemptions such as for specialist tobacconists or duty-free stores.

The bill also provides for new regulation-making powers for incidental matters covering product notices, price lists, health warnings, and other signs. It prohibits the display of trading names where these include words or phrases that effectively advertise tobacco products. An example could be “Darren’s Discount Cigarettes”. The bill provides an infringement notice scheme to enforce the prohibition on the sale of tobacco products to people under 18 years old. The infringement notice penalty is capped at a maximum of $400—that is, 20 percent of the $2,000 maximum penalty for the offence. Alternatively, prosecution through the courts will still be possible for more serious or repeat offences.

I am confident that this bill will help reduce the harms caused by tobacco. It has to. There is too much at stake. If we were at war and losing 5,000 people a year, we would consider that a matter of national urgency. That is exactly what we must do now. The Government would like to see the bill enacted by 31 May next year. I hope that other parties will join us with this approach. I commend this bill to the House.

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