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Advocacy: Smokefree outdoor areas – a breath of fresh air

Posted by Melissa: July 2012 

Many Victorians, it seems, are sick of sitting in smoky, outdoor areas while eating at their favourite restaurant or enjoying a sneaky tipple at the pub at the end of the working day.

Coughing through a nice meal just isn't that appealing – nor is breathing in the haze in the outdoor areas of clubs and pubs.

In fact, Quit Victoria recently discovered, after surveying Victorians on their attitudes to smoking in outdoor areas last year, 69% of adults believed smoking should not be allowed in alfresco dining areas.

Further, more than 60% supported banning smoking in covered train stations, bus or tram stops. 

It's these bans that Cancer Council Victoria and Quit Victoria are currently lobbying the State Government for.

They want to see a change in legislation to include a state-wide ban on smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas.

They are joined by other medical organisations like the AMA in recommending these bans and others, including:

  • banning smoking within 10 metres of children's playground equipment
  • within 4 metres of entrances to public buildings
  • within 4 metres of public transport stops
  • at sporting grounds and facilities
  • on patrolled beaches, in the area that falls between the lifesavers' flags
  • in pedestrian malls (e.g. Bourke Street Mall)
  • at public events (e.g. food and wine or music festivals)

The reason for the push is to limit the harms of second-hand smoke – that those who are breathing in smoke from cigarettes (but are not smokers) may suffer serious damage to their health and lungs.

There are various opinions about this in the worldwide community, including the American Surgeon General who says that even a small amount of exposure to cigarette smoke can have an impact on your health including your heart.

When you think of all those people who are constantly exposed to second-hand cigarette smoke like bar staff, waiters and waitresses or even regular patrons of restaurants and bars, and the evidence linking smoking to diseases like cancer then it's obvious things need to change.

In February this year, the NSW Government introduced new legislation banning smoking in outdoor areas including children's playgrounds, sports fields, covered bus shelters and taxi ranks. In 2015, the NSW Government will be including outdoor commercial eating areas in the ban.

While local Victorian councils have started implementing trial smoking bans, it's hoped the Victorian Government will follow NSW's lead and allow all the non-smokers to breathe easy (and breathe in the fresh air) when they're out at their
favourite, local haunt.

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