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Looking forward to a smoking ban on the route of the Tour De France?

21 Nov 2011

Image for Looking forward to a smoking ban on the route of the Tour De France?

The unremarked passage of the Tasmanian Public Health Amendment Bill 2011.

This week was a noteworthy one for reform of tobacco regulation in Australia. Not only did the plain tobacco packaging legislation pass the Senate, but our own Upper House, the Legislative Council, passed a Bill banning smoking in many more outdoor public places in Tasmania, and will eliminate the display of tobacco products at point of sale anywhere in the state, including specialist tobacconists. The Bill comes into effect on 1 March 2012.

Amongst other things this legislation will ban smoking within 20 metres of the routes of organised cycling and running races in Tasmania.

I look forward to hearing the debate when someone proposes a ban on smoking within 20 metres of the entire route of the Tour De France, and for half an hour after every cyclist has passed through!

Even more remarkable was the disinterest of the Tasmanian press in the local tobacco legislation and the lack of fuss in the media generally. Whilst the tobacco lobbyists were paying their legal consultants big bucks to lobby Legislative Councillors, in order to try and delay the display ban for specialist tobacconists, they did not bother to run their arguments in the media. That is because there is no remaining public sympathy in Tasmania for the “purveyors of death”.

The Bill

However, for me the most extraordinary prohibition in the Public Health Amendment Bill 2011,is the ban on smoking around sporting events, within 20 metres of an outdoor sporting venue. This includes “….any part of the venue used to conduct the actual organised sporting event;”

The Member for Murchison, Ruth Forrest, queried whether this would mean that the entire 10 kilometres of the Skilled Burnie 10 kilometre Road Race be a smoke free zone, she was assured by the government representative that this was so! So this means that all cycle races, road races, organised fun runs in Tasmania will be smoke free for their entire route.

See Hansard Legislative Council – Tasmania Wednesday 9 November 2011 – Part 1 – Pages 1 – 66Public Health Amendment Bill 2011(No. 56)Second Reading….

“……The honourable member for Murchison also raised the issue of no smoking at the finish of the Burnie 10 and the answer to that is ‘yes’, there will be no smoking at the finish line plus within 20 metres of the running route marshalling area and the presentation area.

Ms Forrest – To the running route – the whole 10 kilometres?

Mr PARKINSON – Yes, within 20 metres.  The DHHS would approach the organisers of such events beforehand and ask them to promote the smoke-free laws in their registration and promotional material.”

The other interesting issue about the arguments surrounding the smoke free area bans was that it was couched in the language of “denormalisation” of smoking, rather relying solely on the public health issues associated with passive smoking and second hand smoke generally.

The Fact Sheet on the Bill

The Bill is intended to create a culture in which tobacco is less desirable and less acceptable. It will help protect children and others from harmful environmental (or second hand) tobacco smoke.

Denormalising tobacco is crucial to protecting the children from becoming the next generation of adult smokers. This is because most smokers begin smoking as a child. Reducing the incidences in which children are exposed to tobacco and smoking helps to denormalise smoking to children so they are less likely to view it as socially acceptable behaviour, less likely to start smoking and, as a consequence, less likely to suffer the harms of smoking.

There are already a number of tobacco restrictions in the Public Health Act. There are bans on advertising and displaying tobacco products, and restrictions on tobacco related information at point of sale, and certain health notices that must be displayed.It is already an offence to supply a child with tobacco or to smoke in a car with a child. Enclosed public places, workplaces and pubs and clubs are also smoke-free, as well as the areas within three metres of an entrance/exit to a buildingand 10 metres of the air intake for ventilation equipment on a building. Occupiers of premises to which the public has access may also voluntarily designate areas as smoke-free.

The new changes extend smoke-free areas across Tasmania to include other areas in which the public congregate and in which children are invariably present.

These areas include:
• public swimming pools
• between the flags at beaches
• pedestrian and bus malls
• in and within 3 metres of bus shelters
• in and within 10 metres of children’s playgrounds
• in outdoor dining areas and
• within 3 metres of outdoor dining areas that are not surrounded by a screen at least 2.1 metres high and impervious to smoke.

Smoke-free areas will be introduced at all outdoor sporting venues when an organised sporting event is being held. Smoking will not be permitted within 20 metres of:
• any permanent or temporary public seating
• the marshalling and warm up areas,
• podiums or other parts of the venue reserved for competitors or officials and
• any part of the venue used to conduct the sport.

The smoke-free area will apply during the game and for the period 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after.

All sports are included – little athletics, school sports, rostered sports of all leagues and alltypes – from hockey, to netball, to athletics, to football – every sport, regardless of league and regardless of the venue at which it is held, is included.

This will protect competitors, spectators and officials at sporting events. Tasmania is the first Australian jurisdiction to legislate such acomprehensive regime for smoke-free sports.

As part of the changes, the Director of Public Health will also have the ability to designate particular public events as smoke-free. This will begin with those events at which children or teenagers are particularly likely to attend – such as regattas and music festivals.

Other changes to the Act include:
• Extending the restrictions on the sale and display of tobacco products, so that:

• in addition to general tobacco retailers, specialist tobacconists cannot permanently display tobacco packets and cartons or cigars/loose tobacco;
• licensed venues may have only one vending machine in the service area of a restricted area (ie areas in which children cannot enter);
• the sale of tobacco products is banned at public events; and
• tobacco products are removed from shopper loyalty programs.
• Amending the tobacco licensing provisions, so that:

• a licence must be obtained prior to selling tobacco products from additional premises;
• licences are not transferrable to new business owners;
• licences will not be displayed in premises; and
• the licence register will not be available for public inspection (preventing its misuse by tobacco companies).
Further changes are made, so that:

• extinguishing a cigarette upon request is no defence to the charge of smoking in a smoke-free area;
• the Director of Public Health can approve classes of nominated officers (with or without conditions) to enforce particular provisions of the Act; and
• approved nominated officers may confiscate tobacco products in a child’s possession (conducting personal searches or using force is not permitted).

The changes will become law on 1 March 2012.

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