Gone are the days when it was the norm to see people lighting up a cigarette inside a bar, cafe, or even onboard an aeroplane, with today’s restrictions on the harmful habit being tighter than ever.
But now a state government has sparked debate in their bid to crack down on second-hand smoking, after calling on local residents to help them by dobbing in people who defy the law and smoke in no-go areas.
The move by Queensland Health has been branded “un-Australian” by many after Kaye Pulsford, executive director of its preventative health branch, called on people to have a conscience about the dangers of passive smoking, which is defined as the inhalation of smoke by someone other than the ‘active smoker’.
Speaking to the Courier Mail, she said: “How can a caring, considerate, loving adult smoke inside a very confined space with a child under 16 inside? What are they thinking?
“This is not about whether they smoke. It’s about where they smoke and its potential to impact on other people.”
Pulsford also implored smokers to stub out their ciggies in known smoke-free zones, which include being within 5m of public transport stops, such as ferry terminals and taxi ranks, shop entrance ways, children’s playgrounds and cars containing children under the age of 16.
After the story emerged, comments began to pour in across several news outlets and while many people were happy with the idea of cutting down on passive smoking, others slammed Queensland Health and the state of the “whinging” nation.
One person wrote: “Remember when it was unAustralian to be a dobber, now everyone dobs even over innocent or normal stuff.”
Another said: “Australians have become a nation of snitches and whingers.” While a third wrote: “I just hate the smell of a government trying to tell people what’s good for them.”
The calls come one month after North Sydney council received a similar backlash, after it passed a vote to initiate a complete smoking ban in the CBD, making it the first major CBD in Australia to introduce the controversial law.
Following a unanimous vote, North Sydney Mayor Jilly Gibson told 9News she was “thrilled” it had passed, adding: “I’ve been working on this for a long time.”
She added: “There was actually a mood amongst the councillors, which I agree with, that we might try to extend it the whole municipality.
“We used to accept all sorts of things from smokers, smokers had all the rights. Now I believe it’s the time of the non-smoker.”
Not everyone was on board with the decision though and, in a debate with Steve Price on his 2GB radio show, Gibson was forced to defend the council’s choice by saying those who worked in the CBD could simply smoke before and after work when they are at home.
Naysayers included Price himself, who claimed the decision was a “nanny state solution” and argued it was “impractical” for workers to be expected to avoid smoking while at their job.