Inner-city council considers banning smoking in outdoor dining areas

Wednesday 16 March, 2011

Yarra council last night voted to investigate outdoor smoking bans in areas such as alfresco dining spaces, parks and playgrounds.

The move means smoking could be banned in outdoor dining areas along some of Melbourne's most popular eat streets including Brunswick, Smith and Swan streets, and Bridge road.

Quit Executive Director Fiona Sharkie said if adopted, Yarra would be the first council in Victoria to enforce smoke-free outdoor dining areas across the municipality.

"Smoke-free outdoor areas are one way to address the toll smoking is taking on local communities in Victoria and bring down smoking rates."

"Smoke-free areas give smokers a reason not to light up, helping many to cut back the amount they smoke and eventually stop smoking for good. Smoke-free areas also help to de-normalise smoking for children, so that they're less likely to take up the habit later in life."

Heart Foundation (Victoria) CEO Kathy Bell said momentum was growing for councils to make smoke-free outdoor areas a reality.

"We know the majority of Victorians want more smoke-free outdoor areas, including alfresco dining areas1. Several councils already have outdoor smoke-free areas in place2 while numerous others have signalled they're interested in introducing the policy."

"Smoke-free outdoor areas are already the norm in other parts of the country and it's only a matter of time before that happens in Victoria as well."

Yarra council will now launch public consultation on outdoor smoke-free areas. A report is expected late this year.

1. Cancer Council Victoria research shows:

  • Over three-quarters (77%) of Victorians believe smoking shouldn't be allowed in outdoor areas where children are present
  • Seven out of 10 (71%) Victorians believe smoking shouldn't be allowed in outdoor restaurant dining areas

2. Councils that have outdoor smoke-free policies in place in Victoria include Monash, Moonee Valley and Moreland City Councils in children's playgrounds, Frankston City Council in its outdoor mall in the city centre and the City of Port Phillip and Surf Coast Shire on beaches. Monash City Council also has smoking bans across sporting fields.