While some Australian states have had tough smoking laws for years now, there are others who are quite far behind when it comes to making public entertainment areas healthy and safe environments. However an amendment to the New South Wales Smoke-Free Environment Act 2000 will change this from July onwards.
The last time I was in Sydney I spent the day in meetings at cafes and restaurants second-hand smoking. It was awful. As an ex-smoker I not only found it difficult but also largely inconsiderate – was I that bad back in my day? I sure hope I wasn’t blowing smoke into the fresh air in front of others’ faces that people have a right to breathe.
While it might be a difficult pill to swallow for those in New South Wales, in Queensland there has been massive bans on smoking for a long time and to be honest, I believe it’s for the better.
The Northern New South Wales LHD Health Promotion Manager Jillian Adams said today, “There is strong public support for making outdoor dining areas smoke-free and a number of businesses have already voluntarily banned smoking in their outdoor dining areas, with positive results.”
“Under the Smoke-free Environment Act 2000, smoking will be banned in seated outdoor dining areas while food is being served, with NSW Health Authorised Inspectors able to issue on the spot fines of $300 for individuals and penalties of up to $5500 for occupiers who ignore the ban.”
Whether you like it or not and whether it affects you directly or not, you can’t argue that it is a step forward to a healthier Australia.
But the question remains, is this enough to combat the problem?
The problem trying to be solved isn’t just whether or not people smoke in public places. It’s trying to reduce the amount of people smoking in Australia. So far, stricter smoking laws, a higher tax rate (70% of each pack of cigarettes goes towards tax) and higher health fund premiums as well as a hoard of highly volatile and confronting advertising and promotion about the dangers of smoking, have been effective, but not enough.
There are an estimated
3,00,000 regular smokers in Australia right now. An alarming figure when you consider the health impacts of the habit. But then again, the amount of regular drinkers would not be far off that either.
So tonight tell us, do you think this measure (apart from giving you healthier public environments) will help to deter smokers? Or will they continue to jump over the hurdle and stay on their path to fast tracking numerous health problems? Share your thoughts in the comments below…