Smokers will be left out in the cold when new laws in NSW soon come into effect that ban smoking in all outdoor dining areas.
Beginning July 6 this year all NSW outdoor dining areas will be smoke-free while food is being served.
Although the law was first outlined in the Smoke-free Environment Act 2000, the idea was that it was implemented in stages. Businesses were to be given enough time to prepare for the changes and make any necessary adjustments. From 2006, Australian states and territories each began introducing laws which banned smoking in enclosed public places.
"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," according to the Health Promotion Manager for Northern NSW Local Health District, Jillian Adams.
Massive Fines for Offenders
These new laws will mean that NSW health inspectors will have the power to issue on-the-spot fines of up to $5,500 to businesses and up to $300 for individuals who disobey the new laws.
Those businesses that have already banned smoking in their outdoor dining areas have likely not done it just for the benefit of their customers. Hospitality workers are regularly exposed to the effects of smoking and can spend hours working in a smoke-filled area. A disturbing thought given that according to the NSW Health Authority, “there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke.”
In addition to banning smoking in outdoor dining areas, the new laws state that smoking is also prohibited within 4 metres of a seated dining area and within 10 metres of a food fair stall. The laws however do not ban businesses from having designated smoking areas, just from allowing smoking in areas where food is being served.
Smoke-Free Laws Spread Around the Country
Mid 2016 will also see South Australia introduce similar laws, regardless of the concerns of many hospitality businesses. However, following reports that the smoking rates in 2013-2014 had amazingly increased from 16.7 per cent to 19.4 per cent in the state, these laws appear to be coming at a good time.
"I don't think [the laws are] a huge interruption to the business plans of the hotel industry," said South Australian Minister for Health, Jack Snelling. He added that the government is more concerned with allowing those who don’t smoke the opportunity to enjoy their outdoor meals in a safe and smoke-free environment.
Over the past few decades, numerous campaigns in Australia have been aimed at encouraging people to quit smoking and anti-smoking supporters believe these new laws are a positive step in that direction. Smoke-free signs and additional resources can be found by visiting the NSW Health Authority website.