Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Earlier in the month, Iain Lees-Galloway's Smoke-free Environments (Removing Tobacco Displays) Amendment Bill was drawn from the member's ballot. The bill would require retailers to remove tobacco and smoking-related products from display, effectively making cigarettes an "under the counter" good. But today the Attorney-General formally notified the House that the bill was inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act [PDF].

But not for the reason you think. The core aim of the bill - banning display to prevent tobacco companies from circumventing advertising restrictions with "powerwalls" - isn't any sort of problem. Reducing the harm done by tobacco use and preventing advertising to children are important public purposes, and the ban is rationally connected to those purposes. In the case of tobacco products themselves, its also undoubtedly proportionate. No, the Attorney-General's concerns centre around the existing definition of "smoking accessory" - items such as pipes, papers and ashtrays - and the effects of the ban in preventing display of antiques. I agree that this is clearly disproportionate to the objective - but it is also minor. And it should be able to be fixed with a simple amendment at the select committee.