The Guardian 14 March, 2007

Child health compromised
in Tasmanian tobacco decision

Tasmanian churches, child health and community organisations have expressed disappointment with a Tasmanian government decision to leave shop displays of tobacco in the faces of children. But the organisations have welcomed government decisions to ban smoking in cars carrying children and to ban fruit-flavoured cigarettes.

A large coalition of health and child welfare organisations had urged the Lennon Labor Government to protect children by putting tobacco products out of sight in shops. But the government has announced it will continue to allow one square metre of tobacco displays (and four square metres in tobacconists).

Spokesperson for the coalition, Dr Harley Stanton (Tasmanian resident, former WHO health expert and President-elect of the Asia-Pacific Association for the Control of Tobacco) said: "The decision will reduce display, but it’s not good enough. One square metre of tobacco display in kids’ faces is still one square metre too much.

"We’re disappointed that the government has compromised children’s health following misleading representations from tobacco retailers.

"We urge the government and all MPs to review this decision and to bring a total display ban into effect as soon as possible.

"In the short term, retailers choosing to continue displaying this deadly and addictive product could at least be required to show a graphic warning picture of equal size."

Churches supporting removing tobacco from children’s view are the Baptist Union, Catholic, Friends (Quaker), Lutheran and Uniting Churches of Tasmania; the Tasmanian Council of Churches; the Church of Christ Hobart; and nationally, the Public Affairs Commission of the Anglican Church.

The churches and their allies have pointed to independent research showing retail displays normalise tobacco to children and predispose them towards smoking.

"We are also very disappointed that the government will allow child staff to continue to sell tobacco products — leaving them even more associated with acceptable child behaviour."

Action on Smoking and Health Australia

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