As Victoria’s peak organisation in tobacco control Quit Victoria develops position statements on a range of tobacco related issues. Quit Victoria’s current position statements can be accessed below.
Smokefree outdoor dining & drinking areas in Victoria
Victoria is yet to implement smoking bans in all outdoor dining and drinking areas. With this in mind, Quit Victoria, Cancer Council Victoria, Heart Foundation (Victoria) and AMA Victoria released a position statement in March 2012. The position statement was updated in December 2016: Smokefree outdoor dining and drinking in Victoria
On 13 October 2016, the Victorian Parliament passed the Tobacco Amendment Act 2016 (Vic). The Act amends the Tobacco Act 1987 to include a ban on smoking in all outdoor dining areas where food (other than pre-packaged food or uncut fruit) is provided on a commercial basis. The amendments also prohibit smoking at certain food fairs and organised outdoor events. The new laws apply from 1 August 2017.
Find out more about the new smokefree outdoor laws.
Reducing tobacco related health, social & economic disparities in Victoria
Since 1998, the number of people who smoke in Victoria has been steadily declining. This decline has been seen right across all income groups. However, closer inspection of smoking rates has found that smoking is still very high amongst the most socially and economically disadvantaged groups in Victoria compared to the general population. This big difference in tobacco use is contributing to health and financial inequalities and the most vulnerable in our society are bearing a disproportionate share of the harm caused by tobacco.
Quit Victoria, Cancer Council Victoria, Heart Foundation (Victoria) and the Victorian Council of Social Services believe that there are important reasons why we should work together to address smoking among disadvantaged groups. You can read more in the Reducing tobacco related health, social & economic disparities in Victoria position statement.
To find out more about what social and community services can do to address smoking among disadvantaged and vulnerable groups please visit our social services page.
Further tobacco retail reform: removing the last forms of advertising (price boards, signage, specialist tobacconists & vending machines)
Tobacco advertising creates positive product imagery and associations, produces the view that tobacco is an everyday commodity and can act as a visual cue that prompts people to smoke. Tobacco advertising in a retail environment is of particular concern given the thousands of retail outlets that sell tobacco, and that this advertising occurs where products can be purchased on impulse.
The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, Article 13, recommends a complete ban on advertising and promotion of tobacco products and tobacco use. Quit Victoria, Cancer Council Victoria and the Heart Foundation (Victoria) believe that further restrictions are required in Victoria to remove the last forms of tobacco advertising in retail environments.
The Further tobacco retail reform: removing the last forms of advertising position statement recommends the removal of price boards and tobacco related signage, point of sale display bans extended to specialist tobacconists, and the banning of vending machines.
Decreasing the availability of tobacco products in Victoria
Despite the devastating harm that tobacco causes the Victorian population, tobacco is sold in over 8,000 Victorian retail outlets, is more available than bread and milk and can be sold by anyone, almost anywhere. This widespread availability can contribute to the dangerous perception that tobacco is a normal part of everyday life and is relatively harmless. Tobacco is not a normal grocery product; it is a product that kills one in two of its long term users when used as intended. The lack of controls on where and how tobacco can be sold stand in stark contrast to the regulation of other dangerous goods such as pharmaceutical products, poisons, firearms, pesticides and dangerous chemicals which are subject to a wide variety of restrictions.
One of the important and feasible next steps in tobacco control is controlling the supply of tobacco by reducing access and availability of cigarettes in order to further support quitting rates and cut smoking-related cancer deaths. There are a range of potential benefits underlying the reasons to decrease the availability of tobacco products in Victoria. These include reducing the prevalence of smoking among young people, enhancing the effectiveness of smoking cessation by supporting recent quitters and those who want to quit, and reducing the health and economic disparities observed in smoking behaviours.
The decreasing the availability of tobacco products in Victoria position statement recommends the introduction of a positive licensing scheme for tobacco retailers as a priority amongst other recommendations.
The definition of ‘tobacco product’ in the Tobacco Act 1987 (Vic) (‘the Act’) does not capture waterpipes, leaving Victoria as the only Australian state that does not prohibit waterpipe smoking in enclosed workplaces. As a result, a number of establishments allow and promote the smoking of waterpipes indoors, potentially exposing Victorians to harmful secondhand smoke and reinforcing incorrect assumptions that waterpipe smoking is somehow safe.
Quit Victoria, Cancer Council Victoria, the Australian Lebanese Medical Association and the Heart Foundation (Victoria) recommend an amendment to the Tobacco Act 1987 definition of ‘tobacco product’ to ensure that the smoking, sale and advertising of waterpipes and other similar devices is banned by the Act.
Read the full position statement here: Bringing waterpipe tobacco use, sale and advertising in line with other tobacco laws in Victoria.
Research relevant to the potential impacts of electronic cigarettes on public health is continuing to evolve including in areas such as safety of the product, cessation efficacy and trends in awareness and use. However, Cancer Council Australia and the Heart Foundation Australia believe that based on past experience in tobacco control and early research on electronic cigarettes, there is sufficient information to act on three particular regulatory gaps in order to prevent uptake and use of electronic cigarettes by young people and other risks to public health:
- Restricting the retail sale of non-nicotine electronic cigarettes. In Australia, it is generally unlawful to sell electronic cigarettes that contain nicotine without approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration. This restriction should also apply to non-nicotine electronic cigarettes, which come in a variety of fruit, confectionery and other flavours that appeal to children. Laws in South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland prohibit the sale of products that resemble tobacco products. There are no such laws in other states and territories, meaning that non-nicotine electronic cigarettes (when marketed without therapeutic claims) can be lawfully sold.
- Ensuring smoke-free laws in each state and territory cover electronic cigarette use. As a general rule, the purchase, possession or use of electronic cigarettes containing nicotine is currently unlawful under Australian poisons and public health laws. However, these laws are complicated and difficult to enforce. Prohibiting use of all electronic cigarettes under smoke-free laws would make the law clear for the community and ensure that both nicotine and non-nicotine electronic cigarettes are not used in places where smoking tobacco is prohibited.
- Prohibiting advertising and promotion of electronic cigarettes, consistent with tobacco advertising prohibitions. Electronic cigarettes are being aggressively promoted, with young people and children clearly identified as a target market. Electronic cigarette advertising should be subject to similar restrictions as tobacco products.
This position is supported by Quit Victoria and Cancer Council Victoria.
Read the full position statement here: Position Statement – Electronic Cigarettes.
As noted above, on 13 October 2016, the Victorian Parliament passed the Tobacco Amendment Act 2016 (Vic). The Act amends the Tobacco Act 1987 (Vic) to include a ban on the sale of all electronic cigarettes to minors, a ban on the use of all electronic cigarettes in smokefree areas, as well as restrictions on advertising and promotion of electronic cigarette products. The new laws apply from 1 August 2017.
For further information, see the Victorian Department of Health website on Tobacco Reforms.