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Residents & traders say yes to Victoria's first smokefree shire

Thursday 23 August, 2012

Baw Baw Shire Council has become the first council in Victoria to start the process to permanently adopt smokefree outdoor dining areas after a highly successful trial.

Quit Victoria and the Heart Foundation (Victoria) have congratulated Baw Baw Shire Council on the move, which also includes a ban on smoking in playgrounds, sporting fields, some pedestrian areas and at council events.

Heart Foundation (Victoria) CEO Kathy Bell said results of Baw Baw Shire Council’s community consultation showed there was strong support from the public and businesses for smokefree outdoor dining areas.

"Baw Baw Shire should be commended on being the first Victorian council to take this step forward in the interest of its residents and ban smoking in outdoor dining areas," Ms Bell said.

"Smoke-free environments denormalise smoking so children are less likely to see smoking, less likely to start smoking and therefore less likely to suffer from the negative effects of tobacco use.

"Victorian councils have taken a range of actions to ban smoking in crowded areas where families tend to congregate, but legislation is needed at state level to ensure consistency."

The Baw Baw consultation report shows that there is significant support from the community (73%) and businesses (71%) for smoke free areas, which is consistent with previous research.

The majority of business respondents (83%) also stated that the smoke free outdoor areas policy trial had no effect or a positive effect on their business.

Quit Victoria Executive Director Fiona Sharkie said Victoria was still the only state in Australia that had not either already introduced or announced an intention to introduce smokefree outdoor areas.

"The results of this public consultation demonstrate not only is there strong public support for outdoor drinking and dining smoking bans but there is no negative impact on these businesses," she said.

"Instead, 70% of respondents said their dining experience is more enjoyable since the introduction of smoke free alfresco dining areas."

"Baw Baw has led the way in Victoria and are to be congratulated. The State Government couldn’t ask for a better test to pave its way to act now to introduce a statewide ban on smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas."