Councils across Victoria will receive extra encouragement to introduce smoke-free outdoor policies this week, with toolkits being sent to local governments detailing how they can implement smoke-free zones in areas like parks, playgrounds and outdoor dining areas.
The information packs, devised by the Heart Foundation (Victoria) and Quit, outline why outdoor smoke-free areas are important and provide practical advice on how to develop, implement, and communicate smoke-free policies within local government areas.
Smoking is taking a heavy toll on Victorians, especially on those from local government areas with higher smoking rates; such as Greater Shepparton, Hume and Knox, to name a few. (To see a full listing of individual local government area smoking rates and the number of deaths caused by smoking go to Page 70 of this report http://www.health.vic.gov.au/healthstatus/downloads/2008_ch02_01.pdf and http://www.quit.org.au/thebigkill/)
Heart Foundation (Victoria) CEO Kathy Bell said momentum was growing for councils to make smoke-free outdoor areas a reality.
"We know the majority of Victorians want smoke-free alfresco dining areas, playgrounds and beaches. Several councils already have outdoor smoke-free areas in place while numerous others have signalled they're interested in introducing the policy."
"Smoke-free outdoor areas are already the norm in other parts of the country and it's only a matter of time before that happens in Victoria as well."
Quit Executive Director Fiona Sharkie said smoke-free outdoor areas were one way to address the toll smoking is taking on local communities in Victoria and bring down smoking rates.
"Smoke-free areas give smokers a reason not to light up, helping many to cut their tobacco consumption and eventually stop smoking for good. Smoke-free areas also help to de-normalise smoking for children, so that they're less likely to take up the habit later in life."
In NSW, the number of councils implementing smoking bans in outdoor areas has almost tripled to 77 since the Heart Foundation started a similar local government project there in 2007. That's 50% of all councils in NSW.
Additionally, late last year, Brisbane City Council announced its pedestrian mall would become smoke-free following the lead of smoke-free malls in Hobart, Tasmania and Frankston, Victoria.
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 Cancer Council Victoria research shows:
- Over three-quarters (77%) of Victorians (smokers and non-smokers combined) believe smoking shouldn't be allowed in outdoor areas where children are present
- Seven out of 10 (71%) Victorians believe smoking shouldn't be allowed in outdoor restaurant dining areas
- Six out of ten (63%) Victorians believe smoking shouldn't be allowed on beaches
 Councils that have outdoor smoke-free policies in place in Victoria include Monash, Moonee Valley and Moreland City Councils in children's playgrounds, Frankston City Council in its outdoor mall in the city centre and the City of Port Phillip and Surf Coast Shire on beaches. Monash City Council is considering extending its existing bans on smoking in outdoor areas