“You act or we will”, Council tells government on outdoor smoking bans

 31 August 2016

Eaton Mall Oakleigh

Monash Council is calling on the State Government to ensure smoking is 100% banned in outdoor areas of cafes and restaurants at all times.

Mayor Geoff Lake said if the government failed to stand up for the health of the community, Council would use its own powers to introduce smoking bans in popular outdoor eating areas such as Eaton Mall (Oakleigh) and Kingsway (Glen Waverley).

Cr Lake said Council and the Monash community were thrilled when the government announced last year that it would ban smoking in outdoor dining areas from 1 August 2017.

However, he said the laws currently being proposed by the government are half-arsed and fall well short of community expectations. The government’s Tobacco Amendment Bill would allow smoking in outdoor drinking areas where snacks are served, provided the area is less than 75% enclosed.

“Under what is being proposed by the government, disgusting and toxic passive smoke will still pollute our popular outdoor dining areas in Eaton Mall and Kingsway while impacting the health of our community,” Cr Lake said.

“Cafes and restaurants could convert their outdoor areas to drinking areas, where people would be able to light up while they have a coffee or a beer,” he said.

“A local family could be sitting in an outdoor café area, enjoying a meal, only for a table of smokers to light up next to them. Walking down Eaton Mall today is like cleaning a chimney in Britain during the industrial revolution.”

Victoria is the last state and territory in Australia to announce a ban on smoking in outdoor dining areas. In the majority of other jurisdictions (Queensland, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory) smoke-free laws cover outdoor areas where food and/or drinks are being served. Only NSW and Tasmania have smoke-free laws that allow smoking in outdoor drinking areas.

Cr Lake said Council resolved, at its meeting last night, to write to the Minister for Health Jill Hennessy calling for a comprehensive ban on smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas. If the Tobacco Amendment Bill is not changed, Council resolved last night to give notice to our traders and community that it will use its powers to ensure that all outdoor dining and drinking areas on public space in Monash are 100% smoke-free from 1 August 2017.

Monash Councillor Micaela Drieberg, a long-time advocate for smoke-free dining, said Council will now explore how it can make Monash’s outdoor dining and drinking areas smoke-free, so it can be ready to act if the government doesn’t.

“Families in our community have told us time and time again that they want to be able to enjoy a meal out with the kids, without them all having to be exposed to harmful cigarette smoke,” Cr Drieberg said.

“It is not fair that the majority of people, who are non-smokers, have to suffer because a minority of people choose to smoke in public places.”

Quit Victoria, Cancer Council Victoria, the Heart Foundation (Victoria) and the Australian Medical Association (Victoria) are among many health, medical and community groups also advocating for comprehensive smoke-free laws that cover both outdoor dining and drinking areas.

Media Contact: Mayor Geoff Lake on 0411 645 281 or geoff.lake@monash.vic.gov.au or Jo Robertson 0418 391 979 or email joanner@monash.vic.gov.au

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