New research shows that support for outdoor smoke-free areas in places where children are present is not only high among the general public but also among smokers, as Frankston City Council launches Victoria's first outdoor smoke-free mall today.
Smoking will not be allowed in a designated block in the city centre during the six-month trial, and if all goes well the policy will be adopted permanently in 2011.
The ban begins as new Cancer Council Victoria research shows more smokers are in favour of proposals like this than ever before.
Quit Executive Director Fiona Sharkie said there was good reason smoke free areas were supported by smokers and non-smokers alike.
"We know most smokers want to quit and smoke free areas give those smokers a reason not to light up, helping them to cut their tobacco consumption and eventually stop smoking for good. As for non-smokers, smoke free areas not only help protect people from second hand smoke, but also de-normalise smoking for children so they are less likely to take up the habit later in life."
The latest Victorian population health survey shows 100 people die from smoking-caused illness in the Frankston area every year - three times the number of deaths caused by other drugs, alcohol and road accidents combined.
Heart Foundation (Victoria) CEO Kathy Bell said Frankston's smoke-free policy was helping to address this tragic toll and momentum was gathering for other councils to follow suit.
"Councils have a great opportunity to lead the way and promote good health in their community. Monash City is another council taking steps in this direction, and it's only a matter of time before other councils do the same. The majority of Victorians want to see this policy in place."
Monash City Council is currently consulting with the public about the possibility of introducing smoke free sporting fields, alfresco dining areas and parks, with the consultation period ending November 26th.
This year the Heart Foundation (Victoria) and Quit have started working with local councils to offer encouragement and support for the implementation of smoke free outdoor areas. Since a similar program in NSW started in 2007, the number of councils implementing smoking bans in outdoor areas has almost tripled to 76 - 50% of all councils in NSW.