Member for Western Victoria
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party

Victoria’s Tobacco Licensing Scheme

Mr GRIMLEY (Western Victoria) (17:49): My adjournment matter is for the attention of the Minister for Health and concerns the rollout of a Victorian tobacco licensing scheme. Tobacco use is the single leading cause of preventable death and disease in Victoria and indeed Australia. Despite the devastating harm that tobacco causes, cigarettes are currently more readily available in retail stores than bread and milk. Cigarettes are available in nearly all supermarkets, convenience stores, petrol stations, tobacconists and newsagencies. The lack of controls on who can sell tobacco in Victoria stands in stark contrast to the regulation of other goods, such as pharmaceutical products, firearms and alcohol, all of which cause less harm combined than tobacco products. Given a rise in illegal tobacco in e-cigarette products, it seems only fair for the state government to consider implementing a licensing scheme in Victoria. With Queensland formally considering a similar scheme, Victoria is the only state in Australia not to have a licensing framework for tobacco products. If implemented in full, a retail licensing scheme has the ability to improve public health outcomes by increasing the effectiveness of tobacco control policy enforcement, aimed at preventing youth uptake and reducing overall smoking rates; provide a means for gathering accurate data regarding the number, type and location of tobacco and e-cigarette retailers and to communicate with the retailers—for example, if an e-cigarette device was found to be faulty; and relieve enforcement responsibilities, which could be easily handled by others, from a very busy police force. Additionally the scheme has the ability to pay for itself. A very small licensing fee would be sufficient to cover the costs of management, enforcement and education, given the large number of retailers in Victoria. The scheme could also leverage revenue for the state through fines given to those who continue to break the law. For a progressive government which prides itself on a world-class health system, this seems like a no-brainer. Therefore the action that I seek is for the Minister for Health to establish a tobacco-licensing scheme in Victoria which benefits both consumers and retailers.


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