Print Posted By Glenferrie Traders Admin on 02/08/2017 in Food & Beverage

How will Victoria's tough new anti-smoking laws work?

How will Victoria's tough new anti-smoking laws work?

Story:EBONY BOWDEN, MELISSA CUNNINGHAM, First Published by Good Food Guide

Photo: Wayne Taylor


Smoking will be banned from nearly all outdoor dining areas in Melbourne, and the entire state, from August 1.

Any individual who ignores the ban can be fined up to $777, with a business facing a whack of $7773.

While non-smokers will be breathing a carcinogenic-free sigh of relief, those who still succumb to the occasional dirty dart may be wondering how and where they will be able to do so.

We break it down for you:

How will it work?

Smokers will be banished from footpath dining areas, pub courtyards and beer gardens when food is being served.

But there are exceptions.

Smoking will be allowed in restaurants and pubs with enough real estate to establish four-metre buffers between smokers and diners.

Others can erect 2.1-metre-high cafe blinds.

Smoking will also be permitted at times when food is not being served, unless the venue owner decides to ban smoking entirely.

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Can I have a cigarette with my coffee?

Yes, provided food is not being served at the time (or within four metres) and the venue owner allows it.

Smoking is also allowed if snacks, not meals, are being served.

The government defines a snack as "pre-packaged shelf-stable food" that does not require any preparation prior to serving.

That includes pre-packaged potato crisps, nuts and chocolate bars. Hot chips and pre-packaged sandwiches are not considered snacks.

How will it be enforced?

Council inspectors will be watching for smokers still lighting up.

However, a spokeswoman for Health Minister Jill Hennessy said the first priority of the inspectors would be "to make sure businesses understand the ban" and said fines would be issued "where necessary".

Businesses also risk a fine for failing to display 'no smoking' signs.

What do cafe and bar owners think?

For smaller cafes and bars, and thriving dining precincts such as Lygon Street and Degraves Street that rely heavily on footpath trading, the bans are of particular concern.

Some businesses made the change long ago, but others say it goes against Melbourne's laneway culture.

Degraves Espresso manager Sam Hilaa doesn't support the new laws but said his hands were tied and he would be banning smoking altogether.

"Everyone smokes in our alleyway. It's really grungy and part of the character. We just have to get used to it, I guess."

Alex Brosca, owner of Lygon Street restaurant Papa Gino's, said he found it more difficult accommodating smokers.

"We have no qualms with it. We stopped smoking outside over a year ago," he said.

"We were breaking up fights when smoke was going into children's faces and it was causing all sorts of problems."

The Imperial Hotel made their rooftop smoke-free when it opened in December 2015, calling it a popular and "exceptionally easy" decision.

Patrons hoping to light up a cigarette in the upstairs beer garden at Irish pub The Last Jar will be told to be butt out.

For years, punters at the Melbourne CBD pub have crowded into the beer garden rain, hail or shine, for a cigarette with their pint of Guinness.

But the pub's manager Bryony Fitzgerald said all ashtrays will be removed from the outdoor area next month.

Staff will also be heavily enforcing the new rules and anyone caught smoking risks being kicked out of the Elizabeth Street venue.

Ms Fitzgerald feared the changes would force smokers to spill out onto the street, which she said "was not a good look" for business.

"We're actually quite concerned about how we are going to monitor it because we are a busy venue and during peak times staff are run off their feet as it is ... this is another thing they are going to have to do," Ms Fitzgerald said.

"Our beer garden is packed in the middle of summer and despite the cold weather, it's always packed in winter too, so to ban smoking all together will literally kick our customers out on the streets."

Ms Fitzgerald criticised the state government's roll-out of the changes and said many patrons were unaware the new regulations were even coming into effect.

"We're telling people about the changes when they come in, nobody seems to even know it's happening," she said


Don't we already have smoking bans?

Victoria banned smoking indoors at pubs and restaurants in July 2007.

It was banned around schools, hospitals, courts and police stations in April.

Victoria is the last state to impose the ban and lags well behind Queensland and Western Australia where smoking in outdoor dining areas was outlawed in 2006. NSW and South Australia barred smoking in outdoor dining areas last year.

More recently, Queensland banned smoking within 10 metres of public picnic tables and barbecues, and within five metres of bus stops and taxi ranks.

The Andrews government announced the legislation for Victoria in 2015, but gave businesses two years to prepare.

Why are we doing this?

Well, smoking kills, obviously. Aside from being unpleasant, second-hand smoke can cause cancer and heart disease. It also increases the risk of miscarriage, and can cause asthma attacks.

A 2014 Cancer Council survey found 73 per cent of Victorians disapprove of smoking in outdoor dining areas.

Quit Victoria research shows 88 per cent of Victorians do not smoke daily.


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