Australia’s Queensland has introduced some tougher anti-smoking laws to ban the sale of tobacco products. The ban on smoking will target all pop-up retail outlets, including public events like music festivals.
Announcing this, Health Minister Cameron Dick said the ban on smoking proposed near aged care facilities will be the first in Australia. “Currently there is no legislative restriction in aged care residents smoking in their rooms and this potentially poses risks to the hardworking and staff who work in those facilities,” he said.
A Queensland Health survey released by Dick showed a two percent decline in the smoking population. At the end of 2015, there were only 12 percent Queensland daily smokers. The state has 50,000 less smokers than it had in 2014, reports ABC News.
However, the minister said that the worrisome part is that the state has 3,700 deaths every year induced by smoking. “I don’t consider banning a product a viable option at this time, but tobacco legislation such as smoke-free places is an integral part of effective tobacco control,” he said.
Opposition health spokesman Mark McArdle said anti-smoking measures had been hard to implement because the remaining smokers are hardcore. Nevertheless, banning smoking in public areas would save many lives.
“Tonight is the night where we do push the boundaries back that much further to protect ourselves, our family, our children, and our grandchildren,” he said.
Heart Foundation spokeswoman Alison Durham also welcomed the ban and said it would help in cutting the risk.
Meanwhile, the rate of smoking among young Australians has come down drastically. It holds promise for a potentially smoke-free generation, according to researchers. Data showed strict packaging laws, higher prices and public education campaigns having given good results.
“Twenty years ago we had smoking amongst 12 to 17-year-olds sitting at about 23.5 per cent and we’re now as low as 6.7 per cent,” said Anita Dessaix from the Cancer Institute of New South Wales.
The expansion of smoke-free areas and the ban on cigarette sale to minors are also cutting down on tobacco consumption, added an earlier report by ABC.