Four of Victoria's major health organisations have urged all sides of parliament to support a new bill in Victorian parliament to ban smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas.
The bill, which is being debated in parliament today, was introduced by Greens MP Colleen Hartland.
More than 6800 Victorians recently wrote to the State Government as part of the Keep Fresh Air Fresh campaign to urge it to extend proposed legislation on outdoor smoking bans to include outdoor dining and drinking areas.
Quit Victoria Executive Director Fiona Sharkie said the strong public support for change as well as the fact Victoria was the only state which had not committed or already introduced a ban on smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas meant there was no reason for the delay.
"The Government have said it is taking a phased approach to introducing outdoor bans but the Victorian community have made it clear that they want to see action now," she said.
"These bans are not breaking new ground. They are already in place and working successfully in several states and Victorians deserve the same level of protection when eating out."
AMA Victoria President Dr Stephen Parnis said the Victorian Government had recently won the Dirty Ashtray award for the second year running for their inaction on the issue.
"With 70% of Victorians supporting a ban on smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas, we hope all sides of Parliament will endorse the bill in line with community expectations," he said.
"The community is sick of the Victorian Government stalling on this issue. There is no reason to wait."
Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said every day the Victorian Government delayed introducing a statewide ban on smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas, patrons and hospitality workers were being exposed to second-hand smoke.
"We have to maintain momentum on tobacco control if we are to continue to see smoking rates reduce further," he said.
Heart Foundation Victoria CEO Diana Heggie urged all parties to continue the Victorian tradition of bipartisan support for tobacco control.
"We hope all members of Parliament get behind this important health issue and vote in support of the bill," she said.