The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (16:30): This bill will make changes to the Tobacco Products Regulation Act so that e-cigarettes are treated in the same manner as traditional tobacco products, such as cigarettes. I understand the changes are in response to the select committee, which was established last year to investigate e-cigarettes. Whilst the bill does not adopt all the recommendations made in the final report, the bill does adopt the key recommendations, and are made in the spirit of the report.
It is alarming that there are currently no rules governing the sale of e-cigarettes and associated products, and it demonstrates the need for governments to be proactive on developing technologies and products in our community. Without any oversight, this means that anybody, including children, is able to purchase these products. This is very concerning.
I understand that e-cigarettes are often used as an alternative for smokers and, whilst it is good that this is assisting people to quit smoking cigarettes, the effect of smoking e-cigarettes is not yet proven, and I think it is best that we proceed with caution. I am aware that this is not the path that has been taken overseas, particularly in the UK and Canada. However, there are certainly enough people who have voiced their concerns about the use and unknown effects of these products to make me think long and hard about promoting them as a healthy alternative.
After all, for decades smoking cigarettes was touted as being healthy, and the tobacco companies have only relatively recently admitted to the negative health effects of smoking cigarettes, notwithstanding the concerns that were raised about cigarettes from those in the health and research sectors.
The bill will require those who want to sell e-cigarettes or associated products to be licensed under the act. I understand it will only be one licence to sell both e-cigarettes and also tobacco products. Clarity on where e-cigarettes can and cannot be used will also be provided in the bill, as it will be made clear that, if smoking is prohibited, this will automatically include e-cigarettes too.
The bill also makes a number of amendments to the act as a result of an independent review undertaken by Dr Chris Reynolds last year. These amendments will again provide clarity on certain aspects of the act and assist compliance officers with enforcement. I support the bill.