Smoking ban around children's facilities

SMOKING will be banned at playgrounds, children’s sporting events, skate parks and swimming pools, and the state government has flagged further curbs on the unhealthy habit.

An amendment to the Tobacco Act is due in the parliament this year. The upper house is due to continue debating the Greens’ bill in the upper house that would ban smoking at playgrounds and sports grounds, as well as outdoor dining areas.

Health Minister David Davis said his amendments would be applicable across the state and be tailored to local governments.

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Many councils have enacted their own smoking bans, but the Municipal Association of Victoria has urged its members to wait for the state government to legislate bans.

“We will draw on the results of those trials … of those bans that are currently in place,” Mr Davis said.

He said the laws would be self enforcing. ‘‘People generally see the signs and largely comply”.

He said announcements on smoking at outdoor dining would appear soon.

“The government will make announcements on those matters in the forthcoming period.’’

Greens upper house MP Colleen Hartland set in motion a bill that would ban smoking at playgrounds and sports grounds, but also at outdoor dining areas.

“We are really doing the work of government,” she said.

Last year the government banned smoking on beaches, which like today’s announcement was covered in Ms Hartland’s bill.

She said the government’s actions were “piecemeal” and it was avoiding the upsetting the “big players” in the hospitality industry.

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said the previous Labor government ‘‘got the balance right’’ on its smoking laws.

He said balancing the wishes of the hospitality sector and other interest groups was ‘‘challenging’’.

“I can tell you from personal experience finding a balanced way forward when dealing with this issue is quite difficult,’’ he said.

Mr Davis said the government would draft its own legislation to make sure “that the bill is framed in a way that can apply across the state and do that with the support of councils and with the very clear intent of getting the details of the legislation correct.”

A technical issues paper on the implementation of the reforms will be out for comment at the end of February for local governments and sports groups to respond to.  Consultations will be open for six weeks. 

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