The Guardian 23 April, 2008
Moves to protect
children from tobacco welcomed
Proposals to protect children from tobacco smoke and promotion, proposed by the ACT government, are strongly supported by health, child welfare, church and community organisations — and by the community.
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Australia, on behalf of a national coalition of 38 organisations endorsing the Protecting Children from Tobacco campaign, last month emailed Shadow ACT Health Minister Jacqui Burke to express concern at her statement criticising moves to end tobacco display and tighten up on underage sales.
"Ms Burke has made several statements that need clarification," said Anne Jones, ASH chief executive.
"The proposed legislation followed extensive community consultations over the past two years. There was much input from health, welfare and community groups and from relevant business stakeholders."
She said that ending tobacco display advertising and making it harder to sell tobacco to children are strongly supported by independent research evidence and by community opinion.
"We have met nationally with Woolworths and they support ending retail displays across the board with no exceptions.
"Given that these are measures to protect children, it is misleading to describe them as ‘nanny state’. Any society worth its salt protects its children, and the evidence shows that retail displays of tobacco are a powerful form of advertising that predisposes children towards smoking."
Banning retail displays has already been done overseas — in Thailand, Iceland and eight Canadian provinces. In Australia, Tasmania has already set a deadline to ban retail displays, and NSW has indicated its intention to follow.
"These proposals are enthusiastically welcomed by people working with health and child welfare, and by the community as a whole," said Ms Jones.
"We commend the ACT government for proposing these measures, which will help to lower smoking rates, reduce deaths and disease, and save health costs.
"We urge the ACT opposition to join with us and with the community to support this."