From: The Daily Telegraph
December 18, 2011 10:17PM
ATTENTION smokers: your days of puffing away in NSW restaurants are numbered – if the state’s councils have their way.
NSW cabinet is considering a proposal to stub out alfresco smoking across the state.
Local governments in the city and the bush have put forward the proposal to make a uniform law out of what they say is a patchwork of conflicting rules across jurisdictions.
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Sydney City and Parramatta, the two councils with the most cafes and bars, are leading the push for NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner to bring in the blanket ban. Last week Parramatta launched an assault on cafe smokers, against the wishes of two-thirds of its business community.
Just 33 of 152 councils in NSW have outlawed smoking in outdoor dining areas – but they claim it’s a job for the state.
Councils have labelled current bans as sporadic, and say the “inconsistency is a catalyst for confusion and angst: among both the smoking and not smoking population”.
However, the state government risks breaking a memorandum of understanding signed during the election campaign, which promises to keep smoking as the status quo.
The Daily Telegraph understands a new smoking policy is before the cabinet.
Parramatta Lord Mayor Lorraine Wearne said a state ban would eliminate confusion from Sydney’s 44 councils that have different smoking policies.
“The state government needs to come on board and make it clear what is permitted and in what areas, instead of leaving it to councils to implement their own smoke-free policies,” she said.
Parramatta will ban smokers from lighting up in alfresco dining areas including its premier Eat Street from May 1, next year – despite studies finding up to 70 per cent of business owners thought the ban would have a major impact on their takings.
Sydney City Lord Mayor Clover Moore will also write to the state government “to lobby for introduction of legislation that uniformly prohibits smoking in outdoor dining areas on public land”.
A spokeswoman for Health Minister Jillian Skinner said the government could not comment until the issue had been through cabinet.
Action on Smoking and Health Australia spokesman Stafford Sanders said a state-wide ban was long overdue for NSW.
“Tobacco is a highly toxic, carcinogenic contaminant,â€ he said.
“There is no good reason why it should be treated differently to asbestos.”
A spokesman for Clubs NSW said clubs and hotels spent more than $1 billion building outdoor smoking areas to comply with smoking laws established by the previous state government.
The proposed ban is being driven by The Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW (LGSA).