Qld plans tougher smoking, tobacco laws

·2-min read

Smoking could be banned from more public places in Queensland as the state tries to crack down on second-hand smoke, underage users, illegal tobacco and vaping.

Health Minister Yvette D'Ath has called for public submissions on a raft of legal changes being proposed in a tobacco law reform discussion paper.

The proposals include banning smoking from outdoor markets and school car parks, while children would be prohibited from smoking areas in pubs and clubs.

Retailers would need a licence to sell vapes, or e-cigarettes, retail workers under the age of 18 would be banned from selling tobacco, and cigarette machines would be moved behind the bar at pubs and clubs.

Smoking rates have halved in Queensland in the past 20 years, but the habit remains the leading preventable cause of death, with smoking-related illnesses costing about $27 billion a year, Ms D'Ath says.

"We're taking this important step to ensure that illicit operators know that there's nowhere to hide, and they'll be caught if they do the wrong thing," Ms D'Ath said.

One in 10 Queenslanders smoke every day and about 12 per cent of deaths in the state are caused by smoking-related illnesses, according to government figures.

Almost seven per cent of 12-17-year-olds smoke every day, while 16 per cent of secondary school students have used a vape.

The Queensland Cancer Council backs the proposals as a positive next step in the long campaign to reduce the impact of smoking.

However, it warns vaping continues to significantly increase among young people.

"We're seeing we're receiving more and more calls from members of the public who are concerned, particularly parents, and speaking more with people in schools, about the rise of e-cigarette use amongst children and young people," said James Farrell, the council's general manager of advocacy.

Children who experimented with vaping were three times more likely to take up cigarettes, with products heavily marketed through social media and controlled by a "patchwork of regulation".

"The regulations haven't really caught up with the emerging product. We don't understand the long-term health implications of them," Mr Farrell said.

The Australian Medical Association of Queensland also warned vaping had emerged as a real threat to public health.

Cheaper than cigarettes, vapes are flavoured to appeal to younger users and are easy to hide from parents, said AMAQ president Dr Maria Boulton.

"Vapes are targeted at non-smokers, particularly teenagers," Dr Bounton said.

"Many teens believe that vaping is less harmful than smoking but it is addictive and is associated with proven harms from inhaling heated gases into the lungs."

The government plans to launch a campaign highlighting the health risks of vaping.

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