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New smokefree areas for Victoria: and how to ask a smoker to butt out

Thursday 27 July, 2017 by Dr Sarah White, Director of Quit Victoria


Victorians can breathe easier while dining outside at cafes and restaurants following the introduction of new smokefree laws across Victoria from August 1. Smokefree areas are important to protect workers and patrons from the dangers of secondhand smoke and to make outdoor dining more enjoyable for everyone – so what can you do if someone is puffing away in a smokefree area?

Firstly, it's worth remembering that most smokers want to do the right thing. Mostly there are signs to indicate that an area is smokefree, but people may still be unaware that they cannot smoke in a particular spot. There's no need to feel uncomfortable about approaching someone and asking them not to smoke in a smokefree area. Here are some tips to make it easy.

  1. Be friendly and polite! Start by acknowledging that a smoker may not be aware that a particular area is smokefree.
  2. Calmly request that a smoker puts out their cigarette or moves away because smoking is not permitted in the area.
  3. Be respectful and courteous, but firm.
  4. You may like to conclude by saying something such as, "thanks for your understanding".
  5. Walk away if the person responds with aggression or anger. In such cases it may be appropriate to alert management or security.

Cancer Council WA has developed a helpful video for hospital workers showing how to approach people smoking in various scenarios. While these scenarios are hospital-based, they may be useful for other situations.

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