Readers poll is accurate: Quit Victoria

QUIT Victoria's chief is not surprised that 86 per cent of people who took a Bendigo Advertiser poll voted 'yes' to a smoking ban in outdoor dining areas.

Executive director Fiona Sharkie said the poll was in line with other research into the public's attitudes about smoking bans. 

"When 87 per cent of Victorians don't smoke, it isn't surprising that most people support a smoking ban in outdoor dining areas," she said. 

"That support is high because people are aware of smoking's devastating health affects."

Vigorous debate has ignited about a ban in Bendigo following a trial by the City of Melbourne, which has seen outdoor dining areas turned into smoke-free zones. 

Bendigo councillors have expressed mixed opinions about the smoking ban. 

But City of Greater Bendigo mayor Barry Lyons 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." 

Ms Sharkie said while she encouraged councils to call for legalisation to outlaw smoking, she agreed that the ban had to be implemented by the state government. 

"Victoria is the only state in Australia that doesn't have smoking bans in outdoor drinking and dining areas," she said. 

"It (a ban) should come from the state level because it is less confusing for residents, more uniform." 

Health experts have backed the ban, saying the more barriers a person has to prevent them sparking up, the better. 

La Trobe public health expert Dr Steve Begg said anything that makes it harder for a person to smoke was good. 

One in five adults living in the Loddon-Mallee-Murray area are smokers, a study published last year by the National Health Performance Authority found. 

"In this region - the Loddon-Mallee-Murray - we have a one-and-a-half-year age gap with the state average for life expectancy," he said. 

"We know 10 per cent of this gap is due to smoking, that's a significant portion of ill health that is preventable."

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