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Issue #1537      29 February 2012

Smokefree alfresco dining

Health groups have told the NSW and Victorian governments making alfresco dining areas smokefree will be a popular move to protect staff and patrons – including children.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has welcomed the announcement by the NSW government that it will legislate to make public playgrounds, sportsgrounds, pools, building entrances and transport stops smokefree, and will set a deadline of 2015 for all commercial outdoor dining areas.

ASH also welcomes reports that the Victorian government is considering smokefree alfresco dining legislation.

Says ASH Australia Chief Executive Anne Jones: “There’s strong public support for making these workplaces smokefree to protect the health of employees and diners – including children.

“Queensland, Tasmania, ACT, Northern Territory and Western Australia have all found smokefree alfresco policies popular and effective – leading to health benefits and no loss of dining trade.

“Smokefree venues attract many more people than they deter – because people, especially with children and including many smokers, prefer to dine smokefree.”

The South Australian government has set a deadline of 2016 for smokefree outdoor public dining, but is understood to be considering a shorter timeframe.

“Tobacco smoke is a highly toxic, highly carcinogenic airborne contaminant”, said Anne Jones, “and that’s how we should deal with it.

“Many other activities – driving a vehicle, using dangerous machinery, drinking alcohol - are legal in some settings but not where others’ health and safety is threatened.

“Some smokers may be upset at not being allowed to smoke in these areas; but Civil Liberties Councils agree that a right to smoke doesn’t extend to where it risks harming others.

“We look forward to these policies being implemented as soon as possible.

“In the meantime, we urge local councils to do what they can to make outdoor dining areas under their control smokefree pending deadlines in NSW, SA and Victoria.

“Any council in a position to prevent three or four more years’ toxic exposure on their patch should certainly do so.”  

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