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New resource aims to help music fans breathe easy

Tuesday 14 March, 2000

Victorian music venues are being encouraged to introduce smokefree gigs with the launch today of a new resource for music venues. Going Smokefree; a guide for entertainment venues was launched at a seminar for music venue owners and managers at the Parkview Hotel in Fitzroy.

The guide has been produced by Breathing Easy , a project first initiated last year to promote smokefree live music. Performer and Breathing Easy project co-ordinator Diana Wolfenden says the guide has been developed in response to an increasing demand by both patrons and performers to enjoy live music without being affected by other people's smoke.

'Surveys conducted last year show that there's strong support from patrons for smokefree live music,' Ms Wolfenden said. 'It's not just music fans who want to see smokefree nights - many performers, like myself, would also prefer to perform on smokefree nights.'

And according to one venue manager's experience, the hospitality industry's fears of falling profits if they go smokefree are unfounded. Chris Keeble, Entertainment Manager of Australia's largest nightclub and live music venue Panthers World of Entertainment in New South Wales, told venue owners at today's seminar that adopting smokefree policies had resulted in increased profits and lower costs at Panthers, with:

  • increased ticket sales from 1200 to sell-out (1700)
  • increased bar sales from $15,000 to $22,000 on Saturday nights
  • savings on air conditioning costs of 20-30%
  • savings on refurbishment
  • positive feedback from all patrons

Ms Keeble said the introduction of a smokefree nightclub and live music venue in 1997 had been good for her business.

'We've consistently attracted over 1500 patrons through the door on Saturday nights since Panthers went smokefree.'

'We now attract people from a wider radius because of the smokefree environment.'

Ms Wolfenden said Panthers experience reflected international trends on the impact of smoking bans in the hospitality industry.

'Whilst no Australian studies have been done on the impact of smoking restrictions on business, there's plenty of evidence from the United State and Canada that revenues don't decrease after smokefree regulations are implemented.'

'And we have the anecdotal experience of places like Panthers that indicates going smokefree has even meant increased business.'

With research showing venue owners and managers in the hospitality industry are concerned about the possibility of legal action by patrons and employees, today's seminar also addressed legal issues surrounding passive smoking, and the liabilities venues may face from both staff and patrons.

'90% of owners/managers in the hospitality industry are concerned about legal action by patrons or employees, and that's understandable. Research shows passive smoking causes lung cancer and other diseases, and so performers, staff and patrons are risking their health when they're in a smoky venue,' Ms Wolfenden said.

Ms Wolfenden said the new guide Going Smokefree; a policy guide for entertainment venues would answer many of the questions raised by the hospitality industry about how they can introduce smokefree policies.

'The point of today's seminar is to help venues introduce smokefree nights, and the guide's full of straightforward practical advice on how they can do that.'

'The guide covers areas like staff training, what venues can do if patrons don't observe the smokefree policy, and the health risks associated with passive smoking.'

Ms Wolfenden said the guide was free and available to live entertainment venues.

ends

For further information

Zoe Furman
Media Communications Manager
Quit Victoria

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