Smoking will be banned in outdoor dining areas as part of the Victorian Coalition Government’s reforms to protect people from second-hand smoke, Minister for Health David Davis said.
The Napthine Government will also introduce amendments to the Tobacco Act to ban smoking around the entrances to childcare centres, schools, preschools, indoor play areas, public hospitals, registered community health centres and some government buildings.
Mr Davis said the ban on smoking in outdoor dining areas would ensure that anyone preferring to eat in the open air could do so in comfort, and ensure the right example was being set for children.
“This is a significant and necessary step in protecting the Victorian community from the harms of smoking. Evidence shows there is strong community support for further efforts to protect children from exposure to the damaging effects of smoking,” Mr Davis said.
“This reform will build on tobacco control efforts the Coalition Government has already implemented to improve the health of all Victorians.”
Mr Davis said the Coalition Government will soon commence consultation with key industry stakeholders to ensure that businesses and groups affected by the outdoor dining ban have an opportunity to discuss its implications. A range of models are being introduced around Australia.
Feedback will assist the Coalition Government to determine the details of the ban. The Coalition Government will also consider advice and research from agencies such as VicHealth and Quit Victoria. Mr Davis thanked VicHealth for the advice they have already provided on the matter.
“The Napthine Government recognises that the ban will affect a wide range of small, medium and large businesses, and that sufficient time must be provided to allow them to adjust to the new law,” Mr Davis said.
“However, we know that smoking costs almost 4,000 lives each year in Victoria, and $2.4 billion in direct healthcare costs and lost productivity. Our primary concern is to protect the health and wellbeing of the community.
“Our smoking ban will ensure that anyone visiting a restaurant, cafe, pub or any other venue that offers outdoor dining can do so without the risk of being exposed to harmful second-hand smoke.”
The further reforms on smoking around entrances to schools, childcare facilities and government buildings will shortly be introduced to Parliament through the Tobacco Amendment Bill, Mr Davis said.
The Bill also quadruples the penalty for possession of illicit tobacco by retailers and wholesalers, and amends powers of entry for inspectors to enhance enforcement of outdoor smoking bans.
The new smoking restrictions build on reforms that have banned smoking at patrolled beaches, children’s playgrounds and sporting events, and a ban on the provision of rewards associated with tobacco purchases.
“The Bill will reduce the level of exposure to harmful second-hand smoke and reduce the exposure of children to smoking in education and care settings,” Mr Davis said.
“The vast majority of Victorians are now non-smokers, and disapprove of people smoking where children are present.”