Good idea or PC gone mad? Melbourne’s Bourke Street tipped to ban smoking

Sep 13, 2019
It may soon be illegal to smoke along Melbourne's Bourke Street, with a smoke-free zone being considered in the CBD. Source: Pixabay

While smoking is already banned in many public areas around Australia, Melbourne’s iconic Bourke Street Mall could be the next location where smokers are hit with fines if they’re caught lighting up. Next Tuesday, the Future of Melbourne Committee will decide whether to endorse the proposed smoke-free area in Bourke Street in Melbourne’s CBD.

The City of Melbourne has developed a report that outlines the findings from a recent community consultation on its proposal to create a smoke-free area on Bourke Street from Elizabeth Street to Russell Place, including the famous Bourke Street Mall. The findings will help decide whether the ban will be enforced or whether smoking will still be allowed in the busy city location.

The report found that an overwhelming 83 per cent of individual respondents were in support of the area becoming smoke-free. Just 8 per cent of respondents were neutral and 9 per cent opposed the ban.

It was also found that 67 per cent of smokers had either a positive or neutral attitude to the smoke-free area proposal, while 39 per cent of smokers intercepted on Bourke Street said that creating more smoke-free areas would make them definitely quit or consider quitting smoking.

According to a report on Friday’s episode of Today, smokers caught smoking in the area if the ban is passed could be hit with a $100 fine. The Victorian city’s smoke-free areas project began in 2013 with a smoke-free pilot in the famous Causeway laneway.

Following a successful six-month trial, the laneway became permanently smoke-free in 2014. The project has also seen 11 other areas across the city become smoke-free zones.

These include Goldsbrough Lane, QV Melbourne, City Square, the Causeway, Howey Place, Equitable Place, Block Place, the Tan running track, Princes park running track, Collins Way and Fullham Place. While consultation has now closed for the proposed ban, both businesses and individuals were asked to provide their feedback and thoughts on the smoking ban earlier this year.

Members of the public are divided when it comes to the proposed ban and have taken to social media to share their views. Some believe that further restricting the few areas people have to smoke is unfair, with one person on Facebook saying: “So much persecution for a totally legal activity. I’m a non-smoker, but you can’t tax a product so highly and then persecute someone for actually using this legal product.”

Another comment read: “Isn’t this the most ludicrous idea you’ve ever heard? Nanny State again. Cigarettes aren’t illegal,” while a third added: “It’s not a crime to smoke. They must have areas allocated for them.”

Others disagreed and thought the ban was a good idea and had made improvements in other countries around the world. One person explained: “Tokyo has been like that for years with designated areas for smokers. great idea.”

Another person added: “About time. Should be heavy fines for smoking under multi level car parks as well,” while a further message read: “Hate that children walking through there are subjected to so much second hand smoke.”

It comes just months after North Sydney Council made a bold move against cigarettes and passed a vote to initiate a complete smoking ban in the CBD. As Sydney’s second biggest business district, North Sydney is the first major CBD in Australia to introduce the controversial law.

The first stage of the ban will focus on spreading awareness of the ban and self-regulation for three months. A further report will be provided to Council at the end of the three-month period to review whether self-enforcement is working or enforcement of the prohibition is needed.

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Smoking may soon be banned on Melbourne’s iconic Bourke Street. Is this a good idea?

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