Smoking ban sparks fresh debate

BENDIGO councillors have expressed mixed opinions about moves to extend smoking bans in public areas.

A trial in the City of Melbourne has turned streets with outdoor dining areas into smoke-free zones. The trial period runs until the end of February and could result in a blanket ban on lighting a cigarette anywhere in the city's CBD. 

City of Greater Bendigo mayor Barry Lyons said there was still debate over whether tougher steps were needed to stamp out smoking in metropolitan or regional areas. He said the council would follow the lead from state government.

"I don’t think we’ve got any intention of widening the bans," he said.

"Some councils have gone out on a limb and banned it in front of buildings and public areas. I don’t think we should be doing that, personally." 

Councillor Mark Weragoda said he backed calls to outlaw smoking in the city's streets.

"It’s getting to that stage where I think smoking should be strictly guided into a designated area. I would be in total agreeance to ban smoking in the CBD," he said.

“Why should you sit outside having a meal where on the table next to you someone is fagging away?" 

Councillor Peter Cox - the only sitting councillor who smokes - said he was sceptical of any change in bylaws to ban smoking.

"Personally I wouldn’t agree with it," he said.

"I think it would be important for any authority to justify why they would bring in such severe laws. But if new laws came in that make it more severe I would certainly adhere to that."

Councillor Elise Chapman said she was concerned about people smoking in front of children. She said she smoked for 25 years but gave up five months ago.

"I probably wouldn’t support an entire blanket ban but I don’t think people should smoke around kids for a start, at parks or swimming pools," she said.

"It's totally inappropriate to smoke around children."

Mount Alexander Shire mayor Michael Redden said there were no current plans to crack down on smoking in the Castlemaine region.

"We have discussed it briefly as a council," he said.

"We're sympathetic to people who want to sit and enjoy themselves in an outdoor dining area without someone smoking next to them."

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