ARARAT - Ararat Rural City Council has agreed to continue to participate in the Tobacco Education and Enforcement Program.
The Victorian Government, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) and local government have collaborated since 2000 in implementing and enforcing the tobacco reforms which have been progressively introduced since the introduction of the Tobacco Act 1987.
Since the introduction of the Tobacco Act 1987 the Victorian Government has worked progressively towards regulating tobacco use and protecting public health by the introduction of legislative reforms and health promotion measures aimed at reducing smoking rates.
Local government is seen to have an important part in making tobacco legislation work across Victoria and hence the funding that has been provided by the Victorian Government for Environmental health officers to lead a range of activities specifically to ensure a high level of compliance with the Act.
The Ararat Rural City Council Municipal Health and Wellbeing Plan 2009-2013 lists participation in this program as a way of promoting health and wellbeing by reflecting the Victorian Government's priority of reducing tobacco related harm and the Department of Human Services health promotion priority (2007 - 2012) of promoting health and wellbeing and reducing tobacco related harm.
Since 2000 councils within Victoria have had the opportunity to be involved with promoting public health and enforcing legislation relating to tobacco use. Council has been involved in this program, including the Cigarette Sales to Minors component, since 2006.
Enforcement is only one facet of the Victorian strategy to reduce smoking. Evidence suggests that the earlier a person starts smoking, the more likely it is that they will become a heavier, more addicted smoker and die of a tobacco related illness. Access to cigarettes is a very important factor in the uptake of smoking by young people and research shows that youth smoking issues must be addressed through a range of strategies. Restricting the supply of tobacco products to young people, as part of a comprehensive approach, is part of the strategy for helping reduce the prevalence of youth smoking.
It is the intention of the Cigarette Sales to Minors component of this program to reduce the retail supply of tobacco products to young people under the age of 18 years by emphasising the need for retailers and their staff to request identification before selling tobacco products to young people and by imposing penalties on those retailers or their staff who breach the legislation.
In the six years that ARCC has participated in this program there has been a significant reduction in the number of cigarette sales to minors recorded. Most retailers consistently comply with this aspect of the legislation.
Participating in the tobacco education and enforcement activity program will provide Council an opportunity to maintain, monitor and enforce compliance with the Tobacco Act, including addressing issues of non compliance in retailer display bans and cigarette sales to minors.
The 2013 budget for the Environmental Health Unit anticipates costs of $10,731 as a result of participating in this program.
Council officers said participation in this program is an opportunity to be involved in a significant, funded, public health initiative.