Tobacco Amendment (Shopper Loyalty Schemes) Bill 2012
Written on the 13 December 2012
I rise to speak on the debate on the Tobacco Amendment (Shopper Loyalty Schemes) Bill 2012. I thank Ms Hartland for her support of the bill. I note that in the other place the opposition did not oppose the bill. As Ms Hartland just highlighted, this bill is about loyalty programs and the effects of smoking. As she said, whatever we can do in this area should be done. The Baillieu government is fully committed to ongoing health reform in this state, and it will continue to roll out preventive programs in a number of areas that will better inform Victorians of healthy initiatives and lifestyle choices. I note that the Victorian Health Priorities Framework 2012-22 clearly outlines those priorities and is focused on a preventive strategy across government and across sectors.
The amendment to section 7 of the Tobacco Act will bring Victoria into line with other states that have already gone down this path, including New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. For major retailers that operate nationally, it will provide a more consistent basis in relation to any reward loyalty schemes that might be in place for the consumer.
Clearly some reward programs are targeted at those two specific groups. This amendment will go a long way towards protecting those people in relation to those programs. The state has come a long way in introducing many initiatives around smoking. As we know, something in the vicinity of 4000 deaths a year are attributed to smoking. The health effects cost billions of dollars per year -- up to $5 billion per year or thereabouts. Smoking has an enormous economic cost, let alone the health cost and the costs to individuals that are affected and their families.
It seems incredible that not so long ago we would have considered smoking in the workplace acceptable. I remember that smoking was once allowed in hospitals and wards; it seems incredible that that was not so long ago. I am very pleased that all sides of the house are supporting this initiative. It is a very good initiative that will further protect Victorians against the harmful effects of smoking.