SELECT COMMITTEE ON E-CIGARETTES

Wednesday 09 March, 2016

Mr TARZIA (Hartley) (11:15): Sir, it was Mark Twain who once said:

Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I've done it thousands of times.

And, so, here we are. I rise to speak in support of the report. The member for Elder has said much about the membership and the views of those who were appointed to the committee. I want to especially thank Mr Shannon Riggs, the parliamentary officer who was assigned as secretary, as well as the research officer, Dr Helen Popple, who was appointed by the committee on 2 July 2015. They were always there to aid us if we needed any research. They were very thorough in their roles, so I thank them very much.

Mr TARZIA (Hartley) (11:15): Sir, it was Mark Twain who once said:

Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I've done it thousands of times.

And, so, here we are. I rise to speak in support of the report. The member for Elder has said much about the membership and the views of those who were appointed to the committee. I want to especially thank Mr Shannon Riggs, the parliamentary officer who was assigned as secretary, as well as the research officer, Dr Helen Popple, who was appointed by the committee on 2 July 2015. They were always there to aid us if we needed any research. They were very thorough in their roles, so I thank them very much.

We heard from the member for Elder that these e-cigarettes were introduced to the market across the world in 2004. Where are we, from a state government point of view, in 2016? I am glad you asked, because—

Members interjecting:

Mr Knoll: I asked.

Mr TARZIA: The state government has been extremely slow to react to this new technology. Queensland introduced laws from 1 January. What the Queensland parliament did was to actually amend the Tobacco and Other Smoking Products Act 1998 (the tobacco act) to actually capture electronic cigarettes as smoking products. Why has it done this? Well, obviously, to ensure that there is adequate safety in the market, to ensure that there is adequate regulation and to somewhat have control in the market to make sure that these devices, which are commonly known as electronic cigarettes, cannot be used in existing non-smoking indoor and outdoor places, so that the devices cannot be sold to children under 18 years of age, and so that they cannot be advertised, promoted or displayed at retail outlets.

You go on to New South Wales, which has actually made it against the law, I am informed, for anyone to possess liquid nicotine for the use in electronic cigarettes. New South Wales has also addressed issues of selling electronic cigarettes to minors as well; and I note that the parliament introduced a bill to ban e-cigarette sales to minors and has done much research on that. Western Australia has also addressed this issue.

To be honest, did we need more delay here in South Australia? If the government is serious about addressing this issue—and I know that this issue is important to many on the committee, the members for Elder and Bright and the member for Kaurna, who has a bit of experience in this area in his former life—then let us see some legislation put forward. As we have been told, from 2004 these devices have been in the market and if the government is serious about regulating the market, then let us have a look at it.

I welcome the bulk of the committee's recommendations, and I have made mention of certain ones. I just want to touch on some comments that David Cameron made. You would all know David Cameron. He makes the point—

An honourable member: Not as well as I'd like.

Mr TARZIA: Not as well as you might like, you say. He says:

So I think we should be making clear that this is a very legitimate path for many people to improve their health and the health of the nation.

This is from an article that was published in The Telegraph. He says:

Certainly as somebody who has been through this battle a number of times, eventually relatively successfully, lots of people find different ways of doing it and certainly for some people e-cigarettes are successful.

So, here we have quite a distinguished gentleman coming out and saying that e-cigarettes are useful for the cessation of smoking tobacco. Obviously, there is evidence, as the member for Elder pointed out, on both sides of the ledger, for and against e-cigarettes being used as a tobacco cessation mechanism. They are in the market. We know that they are in the market, we know that shops exist. As the member for Elder pointed out, we heard evidence from over 140 submissions.

These devices are out in the market. Some of them may be causing the public harm. What the state government needs to be doing is putting a bill and regulation before this house now, not waiting for an incident to happen down the track. When you look at all the resources that this committee used, they were great resources and we got a lot of feedback. With respect, though, what would be better is some legislation. Let us see the government putting some legislation forward in this regard.

There are a number of comprehensive government reviews, respected public health bodies, that say that e-cigarettes can stop people from smoking. I notice that a 2015 report for the UK cabinet office by The Behavioural Insights Team concluded that:

E-cigarettes are now the most successful product at helping people to quit smoking, and the evidence shows that almost all users of e-cigarettes are former smokers.

I am not a smoker, but it is all well and good for someone across the other side of the chamber to say that people should just stop smoking; but if you have spoken to any of these smokers—and I can see one raising his hand across the other side of the chamber—it is not that easy. Unfortunately, it is not that easy, from what I am told, because it is quite addictive.

Why would we not do everything we can to provide a legislative framework where people can get off tobacco, which is killing them (smoking tobacco is doing you damage, it is killing people), and why would we not do everything in our power to put forward a legislative framework where people can safely, in a regulated environment, stop smoking tobacco? We would like to see some legislation from the state government in this manner. Just like New South Wales has, just like Queensland has and just like Western Australia has; they have had their committees, they have deliberated, and they put some legislation forward. So, let's see some legislation by this government.

Twenty recommendations have been put forward, as the member for Elder alluded to. Obviously, it is extremely important that we do what we can to protect children, and that we also protect non-smokers from second-hand e-cigarette vapour and tobacco smoke. We want to limit the use of e-cigarettes to adults for the purposes of tobacco smoking cessation. We should be limiting point of sale for e-cigarette products within reason. We should certainly be minimising the appeal of e-cigarette devices and flavours as well. I think we also want to stop a relapse into tobacco use by e-cigarette users.

There is some evidence—but I would not say it is 100 per cent clear—that people can begin with e-cigarettes and go on to use tobacco. We certainly need to make sure that we limit any relapse into tobacco use by e-cigarette users. Obviously, the accidents and/or harm promoting issues exist, and we need to make sure that we minimise them.

What will do that is a good legislated regulated framework that still allows people to have a choice. Just like you cannot stop people from eating fast food, you cannot stop people from smoking, you cannot stop people from smoking e-cigarettes. However, the government should be putting in a regulated legislated framework, within reason, to allow people the right of choice.

We should also be encouraging research into the health effects of e-cigarettes and cigarettes and their components, particularly I believe in vulnerable populations. We know, we saw evidence, that e-cigarettes are cheaper than cigarettes, so it goes without saying that if a product is cheaper the more vulnerable in our society might be more likely to use that product. I thank all the committee members. I thank those who made a submission to the committee and those who have also written in support of our comments since then, and I look quite actively to the government to see some legislation put forward. Let's see some action, not just words, in this area.

Mr PICTON (Kaurna) (11:25): It is my pleasure to support the report of the e-cigarettes select committee of the parliament. Firstly, I congratulate the member for Elder for bringing to the parliament this idea. I will give some defence of parliamentary committees as a vehicle for exploring a policy issue and looking into it. We have heard some attacks of that in the last 10 minutes as to whether the government should have just gone off and done something without consulting the parliament.