Laws that make outdoor dining and drinking areas smokefree will encourage more families to visit cafes and restaurants in regional Victoria, Cancer Council Victoria research shows.
The Victorian Government has announced that smoking will be banned in outdoor dining areas across the state from 1 August, 2017, however it is unclear if this protection will also include outdoor drinking areas (alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks).
Not including outdoor drinking areas in smokefree laws means cafes and restaurants can stop serving food outside and allow people to drink and smoke instead.
A large research study by Cancer Council Victoria's Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer shows that:
Visiting Shepparton today, Quit Victoria Director Dr Sarah White said comprehensive smokefree laws were vital to prevent customers and workers from being exposed to harmful second-hand smoke.
"Victorians expect to be able to socialise outside without being subjected to secondhand smoke, irrespective of whether they are having a sandwich or a coffee," Dr White said.
"Providing comprehensive protection from secondhand smoke may be even more important in rural and regional areas. People in the city can choose to walk up the street to a different venue, but in towns where there are fewer outdoor eateries, customers and staff might have limited options to escape the harms of smoke."
Owner of Degani Shepparton, Luke Hedger, said outdoor tables were a popular choice for families visiting his café, particularly since they are located close to a children's playground.
"New legislation needs to provide continuity and clarity of where customers can and cannot smoke," Mr Hedger said.
"We find there is a bit of confusion due to different legislation between states, and no-smoking trials in Melbourne.
"If new legislation were to be introduced, I would hope that smoking in both dining and drinking areas were to be banned.
"Having a completely smoke-free environment would benefit the majority of people dining and drinking in outdoor areas, and would hopefully provide a clear picture of what is and is not allowed."
Also supporting the push for comprehensive smokefree outdoor laws is Goulburn Valley Health Director of Oncology, Dr Zee Wan Wong.
"Making outdoor dining and drinking areas smokefree will protect people from second-hand smoke, which is a known cause of cancer. This is very important particularly when children are spending time in these areas with their families," Dr Wong said.
"Smoking kills 4500 Victorians every year and is the number one cause of preventable death and disease in Australia.
"Many other areas are now smokefree - including near playgrounds and outside hospitals - so including outdoor dining and drinking areas seems a logical next step."
Victorians can find out more about smokefree laws and show their support for a comprehensive approach that covers both outdoor dining and drinking areas at www.cancervic.org.au/smokefree