Childcare centres and organised children’s sporting events as well as bus stops will be off limits to smokers under new laws being proposed by the State Government.
The move is designed to restrict tobacco sales, reduce areas where smokers can light up and fight passive smoking.
Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said that while Queensland led Australia in laws to cut the harm caused by tobacco, more than 3,700 Queenslanders still died each year as a result of smoking.
“Smoking, even second-hand smoke, is proven to cause cancer,” Mr Dick says. “That is why our government is taking strong action to support people who want to stop smoking, and to protect the rest of us who choose not to smoke.”
Proposed changes to the Tobacco and Other Smoking Products Act will:
- Ban smoking at or near children’s organised sporting events and skate parks
- Ban smoking in and around approved early childhood education and care services, including kindergartens and places offering after school hour care
- Ban smoking at all residential aged care facilities outside of designated areas
- Increase the smoke-free buffer at all Government, commercial and non‑residential building entrances from four to five metres
- Ban smoking at pedestrian precincts around prescribed State Government buildings, such as 1 William Street
- Ban smoking at specified national parks or parts of national parks, and at public swimming pools
- Ban smoking at all outdoor pedestrian malls and public transport waiting points
- Empower local government to ban smoking in any other public space
- Ban the sale of tobacco products from pop-up retail outlets, such as at music festivals
“If these laws are passed, parents and children will be protected from passive smoking within five metres of early childhood education centres, such as kindergartens, and places offering outside school hours care,” Mr Dick said.
“People in malls or queuing for a bus or train won’t have to inhale second-hand tobacco smoke, and smoke-free residential aged care facilities will ensure protected environments for our elderly family and friends.
“This legislation will also give local councils the power to transform any street or public space in their area not covered by state no-smoking laws into a smoke-free zone, from restaurant precincts and shopping strips to parks and other places families congregate.”
The Government will also ask the Parliamentary Health and Ambulance Services Committee to investigate licensing arrangements that affect the sale and use of tobacco in Queensland.
“Other states and territories license the supply of tobacco, and we want to see if a Queensland scheme could help reduce the prevalence of smoking,” Mr Dick said.
Cancer Council Queensland CEO Professor Jeff Dunn AO congratulated the Palaszczuk Government for its action, labelling the proposed laws a strong step towards a smoke-free future for the state.
“These proposed changes will safeguard people from second-hand smoke, encourage more smokers to quit, and prevent more young people from taking up this lethal habit,” he said.
“Children and young people will benefit significantly through discouragement of generational smoking and reduced exposure to the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.
“This Bill responds to community appeals for smoke-free places and acknowledges the evidence that most smokers want to quit, but need to be nudged.
“It raises the global benchmark in tobacco control and sets a new standard for public health and wellbeing.”
Prof Dunn said second-hand smoking claimed the life of one Queenslander every day, despite them never smoking a cigarette in their life.
Australian Medical Association Queensland President Dr Chris Zappala said smoking put an incalculable strain on the healthcare system, and the proposed laws were a vital step to ensuring the health and safety of all Queenslanders into the future.
“Families should be able to spend a Saturday morning at their children’s soccer game without worrying about the harmful effects of passive smoking,” he said.
“These proposed laws will make Queensland the nation’s leader in anti-smoking legislation.”
Smoking costs the Queensland economy more than $6 billion each year, causing 3,700 deaths and resulting in over 36,000 hospitalisations.
One in five male deaths and one in 10 female deaths each year in Queensland are due to smoking-related illness and disease, and 46 per cent of these are people under the age of 75.
Prof Dunn said community support for smoke-free spaces is higher than ever, with majority non-smokers and less than 15 per cent of adults smoking daily.
Mr Dick said consultation on the proposed laws would begin with local government and key interest groups immediately.
Laws are currently being drafted, with introduction into Parliament planned for November.