Queenslanders, choose very carefully where you next light up, or quit smoking entirely – or you could face a hefty fine.
The Tobacco and Other Smoking Products (Smoke-free Places) Amendment Bill 2015 was passed through the Queensland Parliament on February 23, 2016. It was introduced by the Palaszczuk Government in order to reduce where people can smoke and buy tobacco products.
It comes at a time when the latest Queensland Health figures show we’ve managed to get smoking rates in Queensland down to their lowest number yet. At the end of 2015, just 12% of adults continue to fill their lungs with tar every day, compared with 14% in 2014 – which means 50,000 fewer Queenslanders smoking daily.
But there’s still a way to go before we have gotten rid of this fatal addiction, which still costs us a bucket in taxpayer dollars for public health.
More than 3,700 Queenslanders die every year as a result of smoking (Department of Health).
New places where you can’t smoke now
The new laws will ban smoking in these places:
- All public transport waiting points, e.g. bus stops, train stations, ferry jetties
- At or near children’s organised sporting events
- Public swimming pools
- In and around approved early childhood education and care services, including kindergartens and after school care venues
- All residential aged care facilities outside of designated areas
- Within 5 metres of all government, commercial, and non-residential building entrances (used to be 4 metres)
- Pedestrian precincts around prescribed State Government buildings, e.g. 1 William Street
- At or near skate parks
- Specified national parks or parts of national parks
- All outdoor pedestrian malls, e.g. Queen Street Mall
You already cannot smoke in these places (Department of Health):
- State and non-state schools, and for 5 metres beyond their boundaries
- Public and private hospitals and health facilities, and for 5 metres beyond their boundaries
- Inside pubs, clubs, restaurants and workplaces
- In commercial outdoor eating or drinking areas
- In outdoor public places such as patrolled beaches, children’s playground equipment and major sports stadiums
- Within 4 metres of non-residential building entrances
- In cars where children under the age of 16 years are present
- Local governments may ban smoking at pedestrian malls and public transport stops
The new laws also give local governments (local and regional Councils) the right to ban smoking in any other public space they want to.
The new laws will come into effect on 1 September 2016, so it’s a good idea to get into the habit now of not smoking in any of the places listed.
The new laws also ban the sale of tobacco products from pop-up retailers such as the ones you used to see at music festivals. We already ban a lot of advertising of tobacco products, including display at retail outlets, print, TV and radio advertising.
Why can’t I smoke here?
The new laws in Queensland will protect parents, children, and elderly people from the deadly danger of passive smoking in the places they usually gather.
Passive smoking has been proven to be just as capable of causing fatal cancers and other diseases as actively smoking a cigarette.
“These laws spell a major win for Queenslanders by protecting the rest of us who choose not to smoke, particularly our young and old,” says Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick.
“Our most vulnerable Queenslanders can now look forward to spending time in smoke-free environments, which will lead to a healthier future not only for the next generation, but for Queensland as a whole.”
There has never been a better time to quit
Naturally, Canstar recommends you don’t smoke at all!
Quitting smoking will not only save your life (2 in 3 smokers die from smoking-caused diseases), but it will also give you:
- Cheaper health insurance – becausee you’ve lowered the risk of major lung cancer treatments. And you’ll even get a rebate on any QUIT programs you join!
- Cheaper life insurance – because you’ve lowered the risk of death by lung cancer, heart attack, and more.
- Cheaper income protection insurance – because you’ve lowered the risk of emphysema and other diseases making you take time off work.
- A lighter budget – one less major expense every week!
Anyone wanting to quit smoking can call Quitline on 13 QUIT (13 7848).
Use your health insurance to QUIT
Many health insurance providers want to help you quit smoking. They know that it will make insuring your health cheaper, so there’s a win for them too.
Ask your health insurance provider if they will cover the cost for you to join quit smoking programs. If they don’t, we know that the following health insurers do give you some cover for quitting at the time of writing:
- Australian Unity gives you $120 if you successfully complete an approved quit smoking course or the Australian Unity quit smoking course.
- Bupa‘s Living Well extras cover will pay part of the cost of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) that is not covered by the PBS.
- Defence Health includes as standard in all their combined hospital and extras policies (except for Essentials) cover to help you pay for nicotine replacement therapy, nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, mouth spray, inhalers, and the Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking or Smokenders quit smoking programs.
- HIF‘s Health Lifestyle Benefits extras cover will pay for the Cancer Council Quit Smoking or Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking.
- NIB offers Healthier Lifestyle Benefit extras cover to help pay for quit smoking programs, up to $150/year.
Check out our comparison table below for a snapshot of the current low premium policies available for hospital and extras cover. Please note that this table has been formulated based on a single male seeking cover in NSW. You can use this tool to compare health insurance policies here.
Clean Queensland vs. the other smoky states
Queensland is a winner when it comes to keeping our air fresh and breathable. The only state that comes close to restricting smoking as much is NSW, where there is a 10 metre ban near children’s playgrounds.
- Middle strength laws.
- The Tobacco Act 1987 (Vic) bans smoking in entrances to indoor children’s play centres, public hospitals, community health centres, and certain government buildings (Department of Health).
- It also bans smoking on or at the entrances to childcare centres, kindergartens, preschools, and all schools; outdoor sporting or recreational areas; sporting venues during under-age sporting events; public swimming pools; patrolled beaches; workplaces; train stations, tram stops, bus stops; and under-age music events.
New South Wales
- Middle strength laws.
- The Smoke-free Environment Act 2000(NSW) bans smoking in enclosed public places and certain outdoor public areas as of July 2015: within 10 metres of children’s play equipment; public swimming pools; spectator areas at sports grounds; public transport stops; within 4 metres of entrances to public buildings; commercial outdoor dining areas.
- Banning smoking on NSW Health grounds such as hospitals, community health services and ambulance stations is left up to local governments (Councils) (Department of Health).
- Weak laws.
- The Tobacco Products Regulation Act 1977 (SA) bans smoking near outdoor dining areas (from 1 July 2016), as well as cars, enclosed public areas, playgrounds, and public transport waiting areas (SA Health).
- Middle strength laws.
- The Tobacco Products Control Act 2006 (WA) bans smoking in all enclosed public places including licensed premises, shopping centres, theatres, airports, cinemas, cafes and restaurants, pubs, sporting clubs, night clubs and licensed restaurants, between the flags at patrolled beaches, within 10 metres of children’s playground equipment, vehicles, outdoor eating areas, and workplaces (Department of Health).
- Weak laws.
- The Tobacco Control Regulations and Act (NT) ban smoking in all enclosed public places including clubs, pubs, and casinos (the only state to do so), cars (as of 2014), and outdoor eating and drinking areas (SmokeFree NT/Department of Health). The owners of public venues such as shopping malls have the right to declare certain zones as non-smoking areas.
- Strong laws, nearly as strong as Queensland.
- The Public Health Act 1997 (Tas) bans smoking in all public events, patrolled beaches, public swimming pools, public buildings and workplaces and within three metres of entrances and within 10 metres of building ventilation equipment, outdoor dining areas, bus stops, pedestrian malls, in cars with children, outdoor sportsgrounds, and children’s playgrounds (Department of Health and Human Services).