Queensland Government moves to toughen state's smoking laws

Queensland is set to have the toughest anti-smoking laws in the country with new legislation introduced to Parliament.

The proposed laws would ban smoking within 10 metres of children's organised sporting events and skate parks, and within five metres of early childhood education facilities such as kindergartens, and out of school care centres.

Aged care facilities would also be smoke-free, except in designated areas to account for residents who already smoke.

Pedestrian malls, bus stops and train stations, and some national parks will become smoke-free - and the buffer at the entry points to Government buildings would increase from four to five metres.

Other changes included:

Ban smoking at pedestrian precincts around prescribed State Government buildings, such as 1 William Street
Ban smoking at specified national parks or parts of national parks, and at public swimming pools
Ban the sale of tobacco products from pop-up retail outlets, such as at music festivals

Health Minister Cameron Dick told Parliament that each year 3,700 Queenslanders died as a result of smoking.

"That's over 10 people each and every day. And smoking is responsible for over 36,000 hospitalisations each year," he said.

He said it cost the state economy $6.1 billion in lost productivity annually.

"Smoking, even second-hand smoke, is proven to cause cancer," he said.

"That is why our government is taking strong action to support people who want to stop smoking, and to protect the rest of us who choose not to smoke."

Mr Dick said the legislation would also give local councils the power to transform any street or public space in their area not covered by state no-smoking laws into a smoke-free zone - such as restaurant precincts and shopping strips.

The Queensland Opposition said the Government was playing politics with the smoking ban by introducing new legislation when the LNP already has a private members bill on the issue before Parliament.

"If the Government has suggestions or amendments to our Bill we would be more than happy to sit down with the Health Minister and discuss them, but this apparent vindictive move from the Minister is just another example of Labor's attempts to wipe clear any LNP policy in Queensland," Opposition health spokesman Mark McArdle said.

The Opposition said it had not decided whether to support the Government's bill.

New laws set a benchmark for rest of Australia

Queensland Cancer Council's Katie Clift said the new laws would protect people from passive smoke.

"They will encourage existing smokers to quit, they're going to prevent more people, from the young people, from taking up the habit, and immediately they will safeguard the community from the very real dangers of second-hand smoke," she said.

Ms Clift said the new smoking laws set a benchmark for the rest of the country.

"We think it's particularly important to have seen these bans extended to places like national parks, pedestrian malls, public transport waiting points," she said.

"You know hotspots that the public use on an everyday basis across Queensland, they need to be safeguarded in those areas."

Source: ABC News

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