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Tobacco Control in New South Wales

Tobacco Control in New South Wales

Advice on legislation or legal policy issues contained in this paper is provided for use in parliamentary debate and for related parliamentary purposes. This paper is not professional legal opinion.
Briefing Paper No. 1/2005 by Talina Drabsch
Tobacco is a controversial product. Whilst its use is legal in Australia, it is the leading preventable cause of morbidity and premature mortality. Tobacco is responsible for more death and drug-related hospitalisations than alcohol and illicit drugs combined. Approximately 21% of male adults and 18% of female adults in Australia are daily smokers.

The arguments of the anti-tobacco lobby have changed with time from a focus on the morality of tobacco use, to health fears for the smoker and the current focus on the rights and health of non-smokers. This paper examines some of the ways governments have sought to control tobacco use.

Some background information on the incidence of smoking and the associated social and economic costs is provided in section 2 (pp 2-6). The size of the tobacco industry, governmental revenue and outlays associated with tobacco, and the household expenditure of smoking and non-smoking households are noted.

Section 3 (pp 7-23) examines the ways tobacco is controlled in Australia, with a particular focus on NSW. It explains some of the strategies that have been developed by the Commonwealth and NSW governments. It also discusses the regulation of tobacco packaging, advertising, juvenile smoking, and health warnings. This section looks at the influence of price on tobacco consumption and notes some of the ways smoking cessation is encouraged. The emergence of litigation as a means of tobacco control is also highlighted.

Greater concern about the impact of passive smoking on non-smokers has led to the enactment of laws, both in Australia and internationally, that restrict smoking in enclosed public places. Section 4 (pp 24-51) examines the emergence of smoke-free public areas. Information on the issues associated with passive smoking is provided, including the impact of passive smoking on children. Some examples of local councils that have expanded smoke-free public spaces to include such things as beaches and children’s playgrounds are noted. An overview of the Smoke-free Environment Act 2000 (NSW) is included with the Smoke-free Environment Amendment Act 2004 (NSW) also discussed. Prior to the Smoke-free Environment Amendment Act 2004, licensed premises were exempt from the requirement that an enclosed public space be smoke-free. However, this exemption is to be gradually removed from 3 January 2005. Information on passive smoking claims and the ‘Share the Air’ agreement between the NSW Government, hospitality industry and union representatives is presented, as is an overview of the status of smoking bans at the federal, state and territory level. The growth in the number and extent of smoking bans in various countries throughout the world is discussed, with particular attention given to Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland and the United States. Finally, the effectiveness of smoking bans is analysed.