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Health groups welcome outdoor smoking bans but renew call for smokefree outdoor dining and drinking

Friday 8 February, 2013

Four of Australia's leading health organisations have welcomed new bans on smoking in outdoor areas but have renewed their call for smoking to be banned in outdoor dining and drinking areas.

The Victorian State Government today announced all playgrounds, pools, skate parks and children's sporting events will be smokefree by 2014.

Quit Victoria Executive Director Fiona Sharkie said the new bans were a step in the right direction.

"Any progress in expanding smokefree areas and reducing children's exposure to smoking behaviours and secondhand smoke is a good thing but smokefree outdoor dining and drinking areas needs to be the next big priority for state smokefree laws," she said.

Heart Foundation Victoria CEO Diana Heggie said the bans announced today were great progress but urged the Baillieu Government to go further and introduce smokefree outdoor dining and drinking given the high level of public support.

"We know that 70% of Victorians support such a ban and smokefree legislation is a key factor in driving down smoking rates," she said.

Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said a ban on smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas would have the greatest impact on smoking norms.

"Victoria is still the only state in Australia that has not already introduced or announced an intention to introduce smokefree outdoor dining and drinking areas," he said.

AMA Victoria President Dr Stephen Parnis said there was no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

"The bans announced today are good progress but hospitality staff and patrons are still being exposed to secondhand smoke due to a loophole in legislation that allows outdoor areas to be up to 75% enclosed," he said.

"We need the State Government to extend their legislation to include outdoor dining and drinking areas to provide adequate protection for the hundreds of thousands of Victorians who eat out every week."