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Tobacco Product Prohibitions Amendment Bill

30 November 2022

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I rise today to speak very briefly in support of the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products (Tobacco Product Prohibitions) Amendment Bill 2022. This bill, introduced by the Hon. Connie Bonaros, is a simple one. It increases the penalties for people who illegally import or pack tobacco in South Australia. These increased penalties are in close alignment with other jurisdictions, such as New South Wales and Victoria.

As with other drug reform, the Greens regard this as a health issue and believe that we should be guided by a harm minimisation approach. According to the Cancer Council, tobacco smoking is the largest preventable cause of cancer and the single greatest cause of preventable death. In Australia, smoking is estimated to kill almost 20,500 people per year. Dr Caroline Miller, from SAHMRI, in relation to plain packaging of cigarettes has stated: 'Implementing strong tobacco control policy measures like this ultimately makes profound differences for public health and our health system.'

I understand, in a separate bill, we will be considering the nature of packaging in more detail, but the fundamental principle here is the same: the regulation of the tobacco industry will give us beneficial health outcomes. The Hon. Connie Bonaros has brought to our attention the practice of illegally importing and packing tobacco products and described for us in detail how this system works. Illicit tobacco products are unregulated and, as such, we have no understanding of whether or not they are safe for sale within our country or whether or not they meet Australian standards. We do not know how much extra harm they cause beyond the harm that is already caused by tobacco products.

The intended outcome of this bill, and the increased penalties, is to deter people from illegally selling illicit cigarettes, and the Greens certainly support that objective. We hope that this is what will happen in practice, and that a reduction in illegal tobacco products will result in less harm for South Australians.

We will need to wait and see whether these increased penalties have the desired effect in terms of reducing the illegal packaging and import of cigarettes and tobacco products. I hope that, should this bill become law, the government will closely monitor its effectiveness. It may be some time before we have appropriate evidence to show us if these increased penalties have worked, and I look forward to looking at the outcomes.

As I indicated from the outset, the Greens are supportive of the honourable member's bill. I put on the public record our appreciation to the Hon. Connie Bonaros for putting this on the agenda of the parliament.