Thursday 01 December, 2016

Mr TARZIA (Hartley) (10:32): Obtained leave and introduced a bill for an act to amend the Tobacco Products Regulation Act 1997. Read a first time.

Second Reading

Mr TARZIA (Hartley) (10:33): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

We want to prevent the sale of e-cigarettes to children. Recently, I gave notice that the Tobacco Products Regulation (Vaporisers) Amendment Bill of 2016 would be introduced in this place. If the government supports the legislation, the sale of e-cigarettes online or by phone will also be outlawed.

The move comes in response to many concerns raised by health professionals, and also across the wider spectrum, that were endorsed by a cross-party parliamentary Select Committee on E-Cigarettes. These new laws, if supported, will not only shield children from the risks of e-cigarettes but also support the long-term campaign against tobacco smoking.

We note that the report of the select committee was tabled on 24 February 2016, yet the South Australian Labor government has delayed this much-needed legislative change. I believe that it is imperative that we protect our children from harm. We need to make sure that e-cigarettes do not act as a gateway to tobacco smoking. These laws if supported, which I hope they will be, will be an important part of harm minimisation in our community, so I call on the government to support them. I look forward to working with the community and health professionals to ensure that these laws pass and that our children are protected.

Members may recall that the government set up a committee to investigate the regulation of e-cigarettes. There has already been extensive research undertaken into the effects of e-cigarettes on individuals and the public at large. The final report of the select committee was tabled in this house on 24 February 2016 by the government, and 20 of the recommendations were supported by the government.

We know that tobacco regulation in South Australian law is quite comprehensive. Part 3 of the Tobacco Products Regulation Act 1997 (TPRA) already restricts the supply, sale and promotion of tobacco products, including to minors. However, the definition of 'tobacco product' under section 4 of the act is quite broad. The definition does not require that the product contain nicotine to be considered a tobacco product, but it does not mention e-cigarettes specifically.

In the committee on July 2015, I asked Ms Marina Bowshall, who was at the time acting state director of Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia:

To your knowledge, are there any states which have e-cigarettes covered in the tobacco products regulation act or the equivalent?

Ms Bowshall responded, 'Queensland now has that in place,' to which I replied, 'And that's working well in Queensland?' She responded, 'Yes, that's how I understand it.' So, for some time, this has been taken very seriously interstate, and I implore the state government to look at the examples of what has happened there and learn from them.

A press release was put out on 1 September 2015 by Gareth Ward, the Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra and South Coast in New South Wales. He announced that 'new laws banning the sale of electronic cigarettes to children came into effect in New South Wales today', and that 'the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2008 was amended in June that year, creating restrictions on the sale to minors'. So, this has been in place there for a while. They banned the sale of e-cigarettes and accessories to and on behalf of minors.

They obviously consider this very important in order to protect the health of young people and children. They have moved to address community concerns regarding e-cigarettes because they understand that, as we have heard evidence on the committee, they can act as a gateway to tobacco smoking for children. A simple amendment to the TPRA that explicitly states that e-cigarettes and other similar products are tobacco products for the purpose of the entire act is in my humble opinion, as we have seen an interstate examples, the most prudent and efficient legislative change that the parliament can make.

I have written to the Attorney-General, Independent members of the house and also many stakeholders. I have asked the Attorney and the Independents to carefully consider the legislation, and I seek and welcome any feedback they have before they respond. I have strong reason to believe that the Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, or her office, has evidence of practices in the area of e-cigarettes and e-cigarette trade, and some of these practices, she and her officers know, are unlawful at the moment. The time to clean this up is now.

We know that the committee responded and tabled its recommendations in February this year. Here we are in December—no legislation from the government, whereas interstate they sought to amend this much sooner. Further, I have written to various professional organisations from the health and non-health sectors seeking their feedback, and I look forward to hearing that in due course.

In terms of the bill itself, the act will come into operation six months after the day on which it is assented to by the Governor. That will allow for an ample education campaign, if that needs to happen, for individuals, businesses and health groups. The bill defines 'personal vaporiser' and includes 'personal vaporiser' in the definition of what is classified as a tobacco product. It is simple but effective legislation that gives effect to many of the select committee's recommendations.

Obviously, some of the committee's recommendations can be implemented by changing legislation; others require federal intervention, and I acknowledge that. Others will also require change that cannot be implemented by legislation. However, I think this is a step in the right direction, to clean up what is at the moment a completely unregulated industry.

We have seen evidence both inside and outside the committee that minors are using these e-cigarette devices. I have also had evidence given to me in my office that young people are using these devices and a lot of the time we do not know exactly what is going into them, but we do know that they can be used as a gateway to tobacco. I think we all agree that we do not want our children smoking tobacco if we can avoid it all costs.

In March 2016, I received a letter addressed to me—from Dr Amanda Rischbieth, the Chief Executive of the Heart Foundation in South Australia; David Bedson the Chief Executive of the Asthma Foundation SA; and Joe Hooper, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Medical Association South Australia—in relation to recommendations from the select committee on e-cigarettes. The letter states:

We are particularly pleased that the recommendations [from the committee] aim to protect children and non-smokers from second-hand e-cigarette vapour. Limiting their use in adults will also serve to de-normalise their use.

I look forward to hearing more from organisations, very credible organisations in the health profession like the Heart Foundation, the Asthma Foundation and the AMA, as well as many others, various industry groups and the government. I thank parliamentary counsel for assisting in putting the bill together. I note that this is the fourth bill I have now brought before the house because I believe that we have a role to play in opposition. We have a role to play, that when the government ignores pertinent problems in our society we do what we can to improve the legislation.

Members interjecting:

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! I am going to have to protect the member for Hartley. Everyone needs to understand that he needs to be heard in silence.

Mr Pederick: Chuck them out.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Hammond is saying, 'Chuck them out.' If you gave me something different to work with, I might think about it.

Mr TARZIA: As I said, this is the fourth bill that has now been put before the house by me, the first one being to improve freedom of information laws; the second one was in relation to cleaning up sentencing for drug traffickers; the third related to cleaning up the judgement area in courts; and now this bill on e-cigarettes. I commend the bill to the house and look forward to government support.