Four of Victoria’s most respected health organisations have joined together to call on the Baillieu Government to ban smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas.
Victoria is the only state that has not already introduced or announced an intention to introduce such a ban.
The Australian Medical Association (Victoria), the Heart Foundation (Victoria), Cancer Council Victoria and Quit Victoria recently submitted a joint position statement to the Victorian State Government recommending as a priority a state-wide ban on smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas.
Today, they are making that advice public for the first time.
In addition to a state-wide ban on smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas, the organisations recommend bans in other outdoor areas, including:
- Within 10 metres of children’s playground equipment
- Within 4 metres of entrances to public buildings
- Within 4 metres of public transport stops
- Sporting grounds and facilities
- Patrolled beaches, in the area that falls between the lifesavers’ flags
- Pedestrian malls (e.g. Bourke Street Mall)
- Public events (e.g. food and wine or music festivals)
Quit Executive Director Fiona Sharkie said current Victorian legislation did not go far enough to protect Victorians.
Hospitality staff and patrons are left exposed to second-hand smoke because outdoor dining and drinking areas may be up to 75% enclosed.
“Loopholes exist due to interpretations and definitions resulting in designated smoking areas that are not outdoor areas at all but rather large rooms with windows or shutters or blinds which can be rolled up or down,” Ms Sharkie said.
“There is strong public support for change. A 2010 Cancer Council survey found 70% of Victorian adults disapproved of smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas.”
Heart Foundation (Victoria) CEO Kathy Bell said the smoke-free outdoor dining and drinking areas would help to denormalise smoking for young people and remove cues which prompted quitters to relapse.
“When smoking was banned in all outdoor dining and drinking areas throughout Queensland in 2006, a review found 22 per cent of smokers had attempted to quit because of the new laws,” she said.
Vice-President of the Australian Medical Association (Victoria) Dr Stephen Parnis said the research showed there was no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke.
“The 2010 report of the US Surgeon General advised that even brief exposure to second-hand smoke can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and acute cardiac events,” he said.
Dr Parnis said the State Government was risking Victoria’s reputation as a leader in tobacco control if it did not take action on the issue.
“The time for the Victorian Government to act is now,” he said.