The State Government remains concerned about the significant health impact of tobacco on our community. More than 4,500 Victorians die from smoking-related illnesses every year and smoking costs Victoria more than $3.3 billion each year.
Teenage smoking continues to be a major health problem facing our community. Eighty per cent of smokers take up the habit before they turn 18 years old. The younger people are when they start smoking the more likely they are to be heavier, more addicted smokers and to die of a smoking-related disease.
The Government has introduced laws to improve the responsible selling of tobacco products. Tobacco laws have come into force which:
- Abolish advertising of tobacco at retail outlets
- Restrict displays of tobacco products
- Require retailers to display health warning or stop smoking signs
- Increase penalties if you or your staff sell any tobacco product including cigarettes to children and young people under the age of 18 years (minors)
- Make it an offence if you or your staff are found to be in possession of illegal tobacco i.e “chop chop”
- Allow the Magistrates Court to remove your ability to sell tobacco if you are found guilty of selling tobacco to minors and/or possessing illegal tobacco.
- Limit the location where tobacco vending machines can be positioned.
Council undertakes test purchases where a person under 18 years of age is sent into shops to ensure a sale is denied. Should a sale occur, the vendor and operator are liable to receive an infringement notice of approximately $280.
Smoking in enclosed places
Exposure to passive smoking also remains a significant general public and occupational health and safety issue, particularly in the hospitality sector, where workers are exposed to second hand smoke on a daily basis. Research suggests that there is a significantly higher lung cancer risk for both smoking and non-smoking bar tenders, compared with the general population.
All enclosed work places (including enclosed licenced premises) are required to be smoke free. Environmental Health Officers in Local Councils administer all provisions of tobacco legislation and are also responsible for enforcing the no smoking laws as part of their duties.