Are you running out of puff? Smoking is now prohibited in some parts of Melbourne effective from Friday 4th October. The ban on smoking came under the new council regulations, and anyone caught breaking the rule faces hefty fines.
With the passing of this new rule, famous shopping strip “Bourke Street Mall” and a part of Bourke Street, between Russell Place and Elizabeth Street, including footpaths, tramways, and roads have been declared smoke-free areas from Friday.
Hence, anyone caught smoking in these no-smoking areas is liable to pay a fine of $100. According to Mayor Sally Capp, the city of Melbourne Lord, smoking has taken a terrible toll on the community and the ban on smoking would allow about 60,000 daily mall users to breathe easier. She added that about 4000 Victorians die every year of smoking-related illnesses. The health and well-being of thousands of dwellers are affected by smoking, as there is no safe level of exposure to smoking.
Sarah White, Director of Quit Victoria, stated that the ban should be adopted by other councils as well. She said that though quitting smoking is very difficult for some people, not perceiving the smell of cigarette smoke and not seeing people smoking cigarettes around can help to quit smokers to quit and stay on track easily.
She added that second-hand smoke might not only make quitting smokers want to smoke but could also trigger asthma attacks.
Beverley Pinder, Melbourne City councillor, however, wants the ban to be more severe and extended beyond just the shopping strip and street but to across the entire CBD. If this is granted and the smoking ban is extended across the CBD, smokers would soon be forced out of the whole suburb. She said this would make the entire community completely smoke-free. So, she moved for vaping to be banned too.
The councillor considers new areas in the community to ban smoking, and Beverley suggested that the promenade adjacent to Crown Casino should be the next area. She, however, admitted that there could be some exceptions around hospitals, universities, courts, and the other regions described as stressful environments. Concerning these areas, Beverley said that the council would have to carefully consider those areas, study them closely, and work with the stakeholders to achieve this.
She suggested that if smoking is banned across the entire CBD, smoking areas could be erected across the community instead, similar to the smoking booths implemented in Japan.
According to Beverley, the $100 smoking fines were for “health and well-being”, but so far, only 16 defaulters have been levied with a fine this year. The ban is a welcome idea for the Bourke Street traders as revealed by Trader Denise Previti. However, she added that the ban would only push addict smokers into laneways and alleys that suppress the activity. She said: “[people smoking in the laneways and alleys] is better than smoking in front of my shop.”
A survey report in the council revealed that of more than 3000 people surveyed about the ban, about 83% were in support of the ban. Support was very lower among smokers, of the 467 surveyed smokers, 67% were either supportive or neutral.