Council talking tough on smoking laws

LISMORE City Council would like to see smoking in cars banned when anyone under the age of 18 is present and tobacco products in retail outlets kept under the counter.

These are two of eight proposals being considered by the State Government, and the council has voted to write a submission supporting all of the recommendations.

Another proposal is for people under the age of 18 being banned from selling tobacco products.

The manager of the IGA supermarket in Goonellabah, Gareth Morahan, said that the ban would be inconvenient, but he supported what the proposed changes were trying to achieve.

"I've got no problem with that. We have mostly under-18s working after 4pm and there is a duty manager on at night," he said.

"So every time someone wants to buy cigarettes the duty manager would have to be called, which would be a bit time consuming."

Mr Morahan said removing cigarettes from public display also wouldn't be a problem.

"Our display now has doors on it that just slide up and down. Depending on how the regulations were written, I think that should be okay," he said.

The motion to support the Government proposals was introduced by Cr Jenny Dowell, who said tobacco was the leading cause of preventable death and disease in NSW.

"The teenage years are the most common times for taking up smoking, with 80 per cent of current smokers saying they began before the age of 20. We can help the next generation of teenagers decide not to become smokers," she said.

"More than 80 per cent of smokers wished they'd never started."

Cr Dowell said smoking in cars with children present was a direct form of child abuse.

She said smoking was a social justice issue, as well as a health issue, because smoking rates for people in lower socio-economic groups were much higher.

Cr Frank Swientek said people under 18 working in retail outlets were sometimes put under pressure from their peers to sell them cigarettes.

Cr Dowell agreed: "We accept that people under the age of 18 can't sell alcohol. Lismore can be a leader and show the community we care about our young people and their future."

Cr Graham Meineke called the proposals 'a creeping form of intrusion by governments into our private lives'.

He said it would require a new branch of smoking police to enforce the changes. Cr Dowell said she had been contacted by the Cancer Council to make a submission on behalf of council, and was encouraging other individuals and community groups to do the same.

She said other councils were also considering making a submission on the issue.

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