New outdoor smoking laws take effect in NSW

  • Asthma Foundation NSW Welcomes Outdoor Smoking Laws But Warns of Challenges Still Ahead 

    Asthma Foundation NSW welcomes the introduction of new outdoor smoking legislation, which becomes law today, but will continue to lobby the NSW Government to pass additional laws to close smoking loopholes that still exist.

    In August 2012, the NSW Government announced that from Monday, January 7 2013, smoking will be banned at public playgrounds within 10 metres of children's play equipment, in open areas of public swimming pools, at major sports grounds and facilities, and within 4 metres of any building open to the public. It will also be banned at public transport stops, including bus stops and taxi stands, and at railway and light-rail stations. Non-compliance will result in a $550 fine. From 2015, outdoor areas at venues where food is consumed will also become smoke free.

    “We’d like to congratulate the NSW Government for passing the new legislation. It will help protect the public and particularly young children from the harmful effects of Second hand smoke (SHS),” said Michele Goldman, CEO of Asthma Foundation NSW.

    “It will also help the 1:10 adults and children in NSW who live with asthma to breathe easier. Tobacco smoke is a key “trigger” for a potentially fatal asthma attack and is associated with higher rates of asthma. Children who live in homes where parents smoke are three times more likely to have asthma than children living in non-smoking homes.”

    However, while the new legislation protects people in some public places, the Foundation recognises that further legislation is still needed. Public areas such as beaches are not covered and so-called “smoke drift” emerged as the number one concern amongst unit residents during the recent public review of NSW strata laws.

    “Public health will only be properly protected from the threat of SHS when these gaps in current legislation are closed. We will be urging the NSW Government to continue its positive policy of limiting public exposure to tobacco smoke,” said Ms Goldman. 

    “According to the most recent NSW Government statistics smoking-related illness accounts for around 5,200 deaths and 44,000 hospitalisations per year in NSW and costs about $8 billion annually.”

    “The current overhaul of NSW’s strata laws is a golden opportunity to enshrine the rights of the 82% of people who don’t smoke and don’t want their health affected by SHS, particularly children who are more likely to develop asthma or experience symptoms as a result of exposure to tobacco smoke.”

    The Foundation and its partners, who include ASH, Cancer Council NSW and the Heart Foundation, will continue to press local councils to implement the new legislation. At least 60% of local NSW councils and some 90% in Sydney have adopted policies for smoke-free outdoor places.

    “These new laws enjoy overwhelming public support and we would encourage councils to ensure that these new laws are properly enforced. People are now entitled under law to breathe clean air and councils have a public duty to protect that right,” said Ms Goldman.

    “Councils have the power to offer various incentives to cafes and restaurant owners to go smoke free before 2015, when smoke free outdoor dining becomes mandatory. Asthma Foundation NSW believes that another two years is too long for diners to wait before they can enjoy smoke free outdoor dining and that councils should be promoting the many commercial and social benefits of going smoke free sooner.” 

    “The enactment of today’s legislation is a very positive step forward, but there is still some way to go before the public can truly enjoy a smoke free lifestyle, and prevent health issues which arise as a result of exposure to tobacco smoke.” 

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