If you’re a smoker thinking about visiting the Sunshine State anytime soon, be aware that tough new smoking bans have come into effect this month.
Smoking is now prohibited in bus stops and taxi ranks, as well as near child-care centres and aged-care facilities. It is also banned in public pools, children’s sporting venues, skate parks and outdoor malls in Queensland, with experts saying that not only are the laws the toughest in Australia, but they put the state at the forefront of tobacco control globally too.
The idea behind the laws is to protect non-smokers from the dangers of passive smoking. Limiting public places where it’s legal to light up reduces smokers’ options and helps them to quit, as well as discourages people to take up the habit.
Under the new laws which were passed in Queensland in February this year, sellers of tobacco also face tough new restrictions regarding the display of tobacco products, and the sale of tobacco at pop-up stands at events such as music festivals is also banned.
The smoke-free buffer around all non-residential building entrances had been increased from four to five metres, and there’s another wave of bans coming in February next year.
On February 1, 2017, smoking will be banned within 10 metres of campsites and public picnic facilities, toilet blocks, picnic tables, barbecues, jetties and boat ramps.
Queensland is focusing on educating smokers about the new rules before fines become applicable, in January next year.
If you’re caught breaking the rules, on the spot fines of over $240 can be issued by police, Queensland Health Officers and Park Rangers.
In New South Wales
Smoking is already banned around children’s play equipment in public places, swimming pools, sports grounds and public transport platforms in New South Wales, and has been for some time. The buffer around building entrances is 4 metres, and in 2015, all outdoor dining areas became smoke free.
In 2004, Manly Council introduced a controversial ban on smoking on the beach, which made media headlines around the world.
Manly was the first area outside Los Angeles to ban smoking on beaches, a campaign led by the mayor at the time, Dr Peter MacDonald who had seen the effects of smoking after many years as a GP. The doctor said he was trying to challenge the idea that ‘smoking was normal.’
Health experts support bans
For all the debate surrounding smoking regulations, health experts argue that creating smoke free areas, as well as increasing the price of tobacco and restricting its sale, are all strategies that work in the war against smoking.
Using Australia as an example, where once smoking was seen as a social norm, it is now often seen as anti-social. Smoking rates have been steadily declining over the past decade, statistics suggesting that less adults smoke now than ever before. But the Government still believes the rates are too high.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, about 15% of adult Australians smoke tobacco daily. We have known about the health dangers of smoking for many years, which include: asthma, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, renal disease, eye disease, emphysema and bronchitis.
Research suggests that tobacco is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in Australia every year, and puts an enormous strain on our health system, costing the country billions.
The Federal Government, working with state and territory governments, has committed to reducing the national adult daily smoking rate to 10%, and halve the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adult daily smoking rate from nearly 50%, by the year 2018.
With this in mind, we are likely to see more tough new laws come into effect all over the country in the future.