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Flavoured cigarettes to be banned under tightened WA tobacco laws

WA tobacco laws are about to become even stricter with a proposed ban on flavoured cigarettes, split-packs, and minors selling tobacco products.

In an attempt by the government to tighten restrictions on the sale of tobacco, the proposed amendment bill would stop the sale of cigarettes with added fruit and confectionary flavour, split packs, and tobacco products at public events like music festivals.

It would also make WA the first Australian state to ban minors from selling cigarettes.

Xander Sardo-Infirri, a smoker in Perth, said he doubted the efficiency of the proposed laws.

“I’ve never been to a music festival where cigarettes were sold inside the venue and most venues these days are moving towards being tobacco-free anyway, so I don’t know what they’re hoping to achieve with that,” Mr Sardo-Infirri said.

He said he understood the reluctance to sell flavoured cigarettes that could appeal to young people, but said he strongly disagreed with the regulation of flavoured papers used to hand-roll cigarettes.

Cancer Council WA research coordinator Kelly Kennigton said she supported the government’s attempt to put the interests of children and public health over those of the tobacco industry and their profits.

“Every year, 1400 people in WA die from their tobacco addiction, and thousands more suffer from associated chronic diseases,” Mrs Kennington said.

“Deadly products that kill two out of three of users should not be promoted at music festivals or any events that young people attend, nor should we allow products such as ‘split packs’ that make it easier to recruit young people to this deadly habit.”

Health Minister John Day said the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Bill 2016 would put emphasis on protecting minors.

“Underage sales assistants are more likely to sell tobacco products to minors, and they should not be put in this position in the first place,” Mr Day said.

Mr Sardo-Infirri said he saw the value in discouraging young people from taking up smoking.

“I wish I’d never started and I wish I didn’t smoke now,” he said.

“A lot of people were against the plain packaging when it came in and that seemed to have results, so if they think these laws will work, go for it.”

WA already has some of Australia’s tightest restrictions on tobacco promotion and public smoking.

The 2006 Tobacco Products Control Regulations prohibits smoking in enclosed public places like shopping centres, theatres and cinemas, airports, cafes and restaurants, pubs, bars, nightclubs, and sporting clubs.

In December 2013, the City of Perth banned smoking in major pedestrian areas like Hay St Mall, Murray St Mall, and Forrest Place.

Margaret River Main Street also became a smoke-free zone after proposal was passed last September.

Fruit and confectionary-flavoured cigarettes are already banned in South Australia, New South Wales, and Tasmania, and in WA retailers are not able to display them.

Split-pack cigarettes, designed to be split into two or more packs and therefore exempting the second and subsequent packs from showing the required health warnings, are likewise forbidden from being displayed but there is no direct ban on them – yet.

Mr Day said strong legislation was the foundation of tobacco control and there was more to be done.

He said most of the proposed provisions would have a six-month lead-in period with an education campaign for tobacco sellers.

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