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Parliament urged to support ban on smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas

Tuesday 27 November, 2012

AMA Victoria, Cancer Council Victoria, Quit Victoria and Heart Foundation Victoria have welcomed a new bill in the Victorian Parliament to ban smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas.

The bill, which is being read for the second time in parliament today, was introduced by Greens MP Colleen Hartland.

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 earlier this year recommending as a priority a state-wide ban on smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas.

Quit Victoria Executive Director Fiona Sharkie said it was disappointing that Victoria was the only state not to have committed to smoke free alfresco dining areas, and considering 70% of Victorians support such a ban, she hoped all sides of parliament would endorse the bill.

"Tobacco control has always been a bipartisan issue and we hope all Members of Parliament will get behind this important health issue," she said.

Heart Foundation Victoria Acting CEO Kellie-Ann Jolly said smoke free drinking and dining areas prevent chronic disease in a number of ways.

"Smokefree outdoor dining and drinking areas will not only reduce children's exposure to smoking behaviours, it will also protect patrons and hospitality workers from second-hand smoke," she said.

AMA Victoria President Dr Stephen Parnis said research had shown there was no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke.

"We applaud the Greens for introducing this bill. We know there is strong public support for change," he said.

Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said it was important to maintain momentum on tobacco control if smoking rates were to reduce any further.

"Fewer than one in seven Victorians smoke but there is no room for complacency. Nearly 4,000 Victorians die of smoking-related illness every year and lung cancer remains the biggest cancer killer," he said.

"Victorians should be entitled to the same levels of protection provided in other states which is why we need a state wide ban on outdoor dining and drinking areas as soon as possible."