Tougher action needed to stop cigarette sales to children

Retailers should be licensed to sell cigarettes, and the licence revoked if they are caught selling tobacco to children, the Australian Medical Association (WA) said today.

"The State Government is relying on heavy fines to deter retailers, but the threat of losing their licence would be a far stronger deterrent," said AMA (WA) President Dr Paul Skerritt.

"One has to question how effectively we can police the fines system and how often the courts have imposed the maximum penalty in the past."

Dr Skerritt said banning point-of-sale-advertising, limiting displays of tobacco products and restricting cigarette vending machines to licensed premises were welcome initiatives by the State Government - but they should have been introduced much earlier.

"The measures being announced now by the Health Minister were advocated by the Health Department more than 18 months ago," said Dr Skerritt.

"The Government refused to act because it did not want to upset the tobacco and liquor industries.

"On the eve of an election they have promised a raft of reforms which will do nothing to reduce passive smoking for at least another 18 months."

Dr Skerritt said the AMA (WA) was disappointed that Mr McGinty had attacked the association's zero-tolerance attitude to passive smoking as "playing politics".

"We are not prepared to compromise on this issue and we make no apology for putting the health of the community ahead of everyone else's business interests," he said.

"Sadly, our members deal directly with the victims of lung cancer, throat cancer, heart disease and all the other smoking-related illnesses.

"They don't have a lot of sympathy for those who will only take action when the Australian Hotels Association says it is comfortable with the timetable for new regulations to be introduced.

"Many more lives will be lost while we wait for the new rules to take effect."

http://www.amawa.com.au

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