Smoke-free Environment Amendment Bill 2018

(Bills - Second Reading Debate, April 10 2018, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

I support the Smoke-free Environment Amendment Bill which bans the use of electronic cigarettes in places where smoking tobacco is currently banned.

E-cigarettes have only emerged in the last 5 to 10 years. While five years ago use seemed to be growing rapidly, it appears that their take-up has settled with the minister reporting that less than one per cent of people in New South Wales use electronic cigarettes. Notwithstanding, electronic cigarettes are being used in the community and I support the government’s approach to protect people from second-hand vapour.

The World Health Organization has raised serious concerns about the potential hazardous components in vapour from electronic cigarettes, from both nicotine and nicotine-free e-cigarettes.

Liquid used in e-cigs contains a complex mix of chemicals, including flavourants, and metals. When heated, the vapour has shown to include toxins, carcinogens and irritants including fine and ultra-fine particles, volatile organic compounds, lead, nickel, chromium and formaldehyde. Their levels vary drastically and the World Health Organization has found that in some cases, levels of lead, chromium, nickel and formaldehyde can be higher in electronic cigarette vapour than in cigarette smoke. The impact of inhaling heated flavourants is not well studied but there is evidence of harm.

Inhaling nicotine vapour has additional health impacts particularly in foetus development and while liquid nicotine is illegal to sell and possess in New South Wales, people can get it online leaving no guarantee that second hand vapour does not include nicotine.

The bill will ensure people will be able to avoid the potential toxins of second hand electronic cigarette vapour. Like smoking, vaping will be banned in enclosed public places, commercial outdoor dining areas, at sporting matches, in public pools, around children’s play equipment, at the entrance of a public building and at bus stops and train platforms, and on public transport.

Restricting where people can use electronic cigarettes will also ensure that vaping does not become normalised in the community, which is especially important while the health impacts of vaping remain uncertain.

The uptake of electronic cigarettes is growing in the United States and in Poland, including among non-smoking youth and it is important that we take action to prevent vaping becoming popular with non-smokers.

Some electronic cigarette marketing is clearly aimed at young people with advertisements reminiscent of tobacco campaigns from a bygone era that aim to invoke glamour and individuality. Devices and vapour flavours can be highly stylised. Flavours range from standard menthol or tobacco, to slightly more designer such as butter cookies and cinnamon apple, to idiosyncratic cocktail mixes such as “Goodship Lollipop” which is mixed candy and starburst and “Velvet Elvis” which is sweet and tender gummi bears, bubble gum and skittles.

The regulatory approach is the right one. While the evidence that electronic cigarettes can help people quit smoking is not strong and is also offset by evidence that electronic cigarettes can reduce the chance of quitting, some people say that electronic cigarettes have helped them smoke less and outright bans are not appropriate.

But it is important that we protect the air in the public domain so that people are not forced to breathe air contaminated with chemicals and potential toxins. This bill will do that and I support it.

I want to thank the minister for providing the cross bench with a detailed briefing on this bill and would encourage other government ministers to acknowledge the importance of providing cross bench members of this house all the relevant information they need before they vote and speak on bills. While this may sound obvious, it is something that is rarely practiced – briefings are often only offered after bills have passed this place and move to the other place.

 

To read the speeches of other Members on the subject, click HERE