POLL: Masons owner backs smoking ban

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RELATED: Bendigo councillors have mixed opinions on extended bans

A LEADING Bendigo restaurant has backed calls for a smoking ban in outdoor dining areas. 

A trial in the City of Melbourne, which has turned streets with outdoor dining areas into smoke-free zones, has sparked debate about a ban in Bendigo.

Masons of Bendigo owner Nick Anthony said it was offensive when smokers lit up in outdoor dining areas when other patrons were eating. 

"We don't get that many people smoking outside," he said. 

"But food and cigarette smoke just doesn't mix.

But food and cigarette smoke just don't mix. - Nick Anthony

"People are pretty courteous, if they do smoke, they tend to walk away from where people are eating."

The proposed ban would add to legislation that was introduced last year to ban smoking in areas commonly used by children and young people for recreational and sporting activities.

Steve Virtue, who owns Favourite Flavours on Mitchell Street, said he supported the smoking bans because he did not like to share people's cigarettes.

"Why should I have to breathe smoke in and harm myself," he said. 

Borchelli manager Aimee Smith, who has already brought in a smoking ban in part of the restaurant's outdoor dining area, was concerned about how pubs would survive if smoking was banned. 

"I think pubs will struggle," she said. 

"People like to have a drink and a smoke.

"We have two tables down one end where people can smoke."

"Smoking is a disgusting habit so patrons need to have a non-smoking area."

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

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 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.

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