Smoking loophole putting kids in danger


Queensland's Cancer Council has challenged the Queensland Government to close a loophole in smoking legislation that is exposing children as young as three to second-hand smoke.

The charity's advocacy efforts come after parents of children attending Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) facilities complained that tobacco smoke from nearby business premises had penetrated the centre's buffer zone.

In Queensland, buffer zones extend for five metres beyond facility boundaries at ECEC sites, schools, residential aged care and health facilities, but that exemption does not apply to homes or business properties that share a common boundary.

The loophole means smokers who share a fence line with toddlers cannot be stopped from exposing children to their second-hand smoke.

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Chris McMillan has urged the Queensland Government to address the legislation loop hole in Part2BB Division 1 of the Tobacco Act to ensure Queenslanders are protected from second-hand smoke.

"Second-hand smoke affects the health of everyone - but babies, infants and children are particularly at risk because they breathe faster and their lungs are still developing," Ms McMillan said.

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Chris McMillan
Cancer Council Queensland CEO Chris McMillan

"Cancer Council Queensland has written to the Queensland Government and urged action on this issue, asking for the removal of the exception in the Act that allows people to smoke within buffer zones after concerned parents advised their children were being put at risk of inhaling second-hand smoke.

"This could also extend to the buffer zones that apply to health facilities, schools and school facilities, residential aged care facilities, public transport waiting points, skate parks, and underage sporting events, to prevent vulnerable Queenslanders' exposure to dangerous second-hand smoke.

"Exposure to second-hand smoke increases a person's risk of heart disease, lung cancer and respiratory conditions, SIDS and allergic respiratory diseases in children.

"Creating safe and smoke-free environments through amending these buffer zone exemptions is the only way to fully protect children and all nonsmokers from the dangers of second-hand smoke."

Around 3700 Queenslanders die from tobacco-related diseases every year.

Smokers can obtain free information, practical assistance and support from Quitline, 13 QUIT (13 7848).