The State Government's plan to ban smoking on patrolled beaches does not go far enough, according to four of Victoria's most respected health organisations.
Earlier this year, The Australian Medical Association (Victoria), the Heart Foundation (Victoria), Cancer Council Victoria and Quit Victoria 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.
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 acknowledged the Baillieu Government's first smoking ban announcement as a positive start but urged it to go further to introduce smokefree outdoor dining and drinking given the high level of public support and successful implementation in other states.
"More Victorians are exposed to second hand smoke and smoking behaviours at outdoor drinking and dining areas than beaches and a ban here would have far greater impact on changing smoking norms, " she said.
Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said smokefree legislation was a key factor in driving down smoking rates.
"18-29 year-olds are no longer the age group with the highest proportion of smokers and it's likely that is in large part due to smoking bans in pubs and clubs," he said.
Australian Medical Association Victoria president Dr Stephen Parnis noted the Victorian State Government had been awarded the 2012 Dirty Ashtray award for the worst-performing government in tobacco control in the past 12 months.
"Victoria is still the only state in Australia that has not either introduced or announced an intention to introduce smokefree outdoor dining and drinking areas," he said.
"We know that almost 70% of Victorians support such a ban and the community expects the Victorian State Government to show they are serious about protecting Victorians from second-hand smoke."
Heart Foundation Victoria CEO Kellie-Ann Jolly said councils across Victoria had enthusiastically embraced smokefree areas.
"Councils across Victoria are doing a great job implementing bans in their own areas but to ensure a level playing field and a consistent approach, we need the State Government to extend their planned legislation to also ban smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas and other crowded outdoor settings," Ms Jolly said.