Push for smoke-free dining in region

A NUMBER of central Victorian councils have joined calls for the state government to outlaw smoking in outdoor dining areas.

The government has faced renewed pressure to introduce the smoking ban, with a push from health groups, including the Cancer Council and Quit Victoria, to make the legislation a priority.

About 130 Bendigo residents added their name to the recent Quit Victoria Keep Fresh Air Fresh campaign, which drew 6872 signatures statewide.

City of Greater Bendigo planning and development director Prue Mansfield said the council was hopeful the government would make alfresco dining areas smoke-free zones.

Ms Mansfield said the general feedback from the community was in support of the ban.

“The majority of people are just saying, let’s get on with it and bring in the legislation,” she said. “There is clear evidence of health benefits.”

Macedon Ranges Shire has rolled out a trial program, with local businesses pushing for smoke-free alfresco dining. 

Victoria is the only state in the country that has not legislated against smoking in outdoor dining areas.

A spokesman for Health Minister David Davis said the issue was still in the consultation phase.

He said the government had taken steps to stop smoking in children’s play areas and at children’s sports events and would continue to take steps over time to restrict smoking in a number of other areas.

“There is more work to do. With long-term commitment and bipartisan support we hope to see a further decline in the numbers of people smoking.”

The state Labor party has yet to commit to the smoking ban as part of its policy platform.

Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards said she saw valid reasons in support of the ban.

She said she had been “inundated with emails from people requesting that smoking be banned”.

“From a personal level I think there’s strong arguments in support of the ban,” she said.

“It’s something I think the government should make a call on.”

Mr Davis’ spokesman said legislation reflecting the consultations was being prepared to go before parliament in coming months.