Time To Butt Out: Smoking To Become Prohibited In Outdoor Dining Areas Across Victoria

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Feature image: Cigarettes by Chris Vaughan (CC BY 2.0)

Victorian smokers will soon be banned from lighting up after a meal – even outside. The Tobacco Amendment Act 2016 will prohibit all smoking outdoors at restaurants and cafés across the state to improve dining experiences and protect the community from the harmful effects of passive smoking.

Whitehorse Mayor Councillor Denise Massoud says that the statewide tobacco reform is a welcome move which will make to make outdoor dining more enjoyable.

“This reform means smoking is now banned in outdoor dining areas at hospitality venues, such as footpaths or courtyards where food is eaten. Whitehorse boasts many fine cafés and dining venues where patrons can sit outside and enjoy themselves and this legislation ensures those areas are kept smoke free,” said Cr Massoud.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, there has been strong community support for the reform, finding 73 per cent of Victorians support the introduction of a ban on smoking in outdoor dining areas.

Smoking within ten metres of a food vendor at organised outdoor events, including community or street festivals will also be banned.

“These measures will be put in place to protect the community from the harmful effects of passive smoking and to ensure smoking is not considered a normal behaviour. This is particularly important for discouraging children from taking up smoking,” said Cr Massoud. 

Although there has been strong community support for the reform, others have expressed concern regarding how the new legislation will impact business where patrons go to dine and smoke.

To complement the smoke-free outdoor dining amendment, smoking will become illegal in an outdoor drinking area that is not separated by a wall of at least 2.1 metres high or a four-metre buffer zone.

Deakin student, smoker and part-time restaurant manager, Allie Vautin worries that the ban will hit sales at Melbourne’s popular licenced restaurants.

“I think that the new smoking laws are going to have a huge impact on businesses around Victoria, with lots of restaurants and bars relying on customers wanting to be in an environment where they can eat and drink and smoke and socialise,” says Miss Vautin.

“A lot of venues that operate more as bars have restaurant licences requiring them to serve food whilst serving alcohol, so I think it’s going to be interesting to see how the smoking laws impact these businesses.”

The state-wide tobacco reform will be implemented throughout the City of Whitehorse, which includes the Burwood and Box Hill areas surrounding Deakin University.

Business owners and event organisers must display ‘No Smoking’ signs in outdoor dining areas from 1 August 2017.

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