New smokefree outdoor laws

Victorians are looking forward to the idea of breathing easier when outdoor dining areas become smokefree across the state from August 2017.

So what’s all the fuss about? 

Well, there are currently different examples of smokefree laws in Australia. The key difference between them is whether outdoor drinking (alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks) is covered in the smokefree laws. Not including drinking in smokefree laws, means cafes and restaurants can convert their outdoor areas to drinking (and smoking) only.

Research shows that Victorians expect to be able to socialise outside without being subjected to secondhand smoke, whether they are having a sandwich or just a coffee.

So will they be able to? It depends on which laws the Victorian Government picks.

No smoking symbol Queensland model

Comprehensive outdoor smokefree laws have been the norm in Queensland for a decade. Outdoor areas of cafes and restaurants are smokefree at all times. Smoking is allowed in designated outdoor areas of pubs and clubs, while ensuring there is still somewhere to eat and drink outdoors that is smokefree. No food or drinks are served in the designated outdoor smoking area, to protect the health and comfort of hospitality workers, and the designated outdoor area is separated from the rest of the outdoor space to protect the health and comfort of non-smoking patrons. In Victoria, 88% of smokers support this designated outdoor smoking area idea.

No eating symbol NSW model

Smokefree laws covering only outdoor dining areas were introduced in July 2015, and are causing widespread confusion. This approach means the government needs to define 'dining'. For example, does a packet of chips count as dining? A smoothie? A biscuit with your coffee? The laws have created an enforcement nightmare for hospitality staff. In some cases, venues are deciding to stop serving food outside altogether and devote their outdoor area to drinking and smoking.

In other words, eating is banned in favour of smoking in parts or the whole of the outdoor area or at different times of the day. People who want to eat are forced to go indoors.

Comparing the Qld vs NSW models of outdoor dining

Want to do something more? Sign our petition!

I support comprehensive smokefree laws being introduced in Victoria, covering both outdoor dining and drinking areas. Like many Victorians, I welcome the government’s commitment to introduce smokefree outdoor dining across the state from August next year. However, in order to properly protect patrons and staff from the dangers of secondhand smoke, these laws must also include outdoor drinking areas.

I support the model operating in Queensland, where outdoor areas of cafes and restaurants are smokefree at all times. Smoking is allowed only in designated outdoor areas of pubs and clubs, which must be separated from the rest of the outdoor space and where no food or drink is served.

Comprehensive smokefree laws are needed to protect the health of staff and patrons, and will strengthen Victoria’s vibrant dining culture.

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My son's asthma is triggered by cigarette smoke. We would love to sit outside at cafes and restaurants and enjoy the fresh air and not have to worry about someone smoking nearby. Denise, Toorak

Everyone knows how dangerous secondhand smoke is. No-one can light up in an office but hospitality staff are exposed to smoke all day, every day in their workplace. It is damaging to our health, and it needs to be addressed. Jack, barista and waiter

More than 50% of Victorians say they have avoided sitting outside at a cafe or restaurant in the past year - no matter whether they were eating or drinking - because of cigarette smoke. More than 1 in 5 Victorians say they will visit cafes and restaurants more often if they no longer have to put up with cigarette smoke in outdoor areas. That's an extra 750,000 visits to businesses each year. </p-->