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Health groups welcome smokefree outdoor areas in north-central Victoria

Thursday 24 May, 2012

Heart Foundation (Victoria) and Quit Victoria have welcomed Macedon Ranges Shire Council's announcement that playgrounds and entrances to council owned buildings will be smoke-free from 1 July 2012.

Heart Foundation (Victoria) CEO Kathy Bell said the policy was a win for people in north-central Victoria.

"It's fantastic that Macedon Ranges Shire Council is listening to what its residents want and is taking action to address the toll that smoking takes on its community.

"Smoke-free outdoor areas help make smoking less visible to young people, so they're less likely to take up smoking, while also helping smokers trying to quit reach that goal," Ms Bell said.

Macedon Ranges Shire Council joins a growing number of councils with smoking bans in outdoor areas. In the past 12 months smoke-free playgrounds have been implemented in the Cities of Yarra and Hobsons Bay, Greater Shepparton and Baw Baw Shire Council. Melbourne City Council recently completed community consultation on smoke-free playgrounds, with an announcement expected soon.

Additionally, the Heart Foundation and Quit Victoria commend the council on its new incentive program that will encourage local traders to provide smoke-free alfresco dining areas through council promotion and endorsements.

Quit Executive Director Fiona Sharkie said 70% of Victorians supported a ban on smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas.

"Victoria is now the only state in the country that has not already introduced or announced an intention to introduce smokefree alfresco areas," she said.

"We applaud Macedon Ranges for showing leadership in this area, but it is time for the State Government to step in and legislate for smoke-free alfresco dining. This will ensure all Victorians are able to enjoy alfresco dining whilst being protected from the harms of second-hand smoke.

"Victoria's reputation as a leader in tobacco control is at risk if action is not taken to bring us in line with other states."