Call to extend Sydney smoking ban across the central business district
THE great Australian smoko, already on its last legs, could be about to go the way of the dodo with calls to increase outdoor smoking bans and even prevent lighting throughout major CBDs.
A trial smoking ban in the Sydney thoroughfare of Martin Place has seen the number of people grabbing a few puffs drop dramatically.
But critics have said ever increasing bans are “bullying” smokers and “needs to stop”.
In May, City of Sydney council commenced a 12 month trial banning smoking on Martin Place, one of the busiest pedestrian strips in the CBD. Since the ban came into force, rangers patrolling the street have reported a massive decrease in smokers.
Martin Place has become smoke free in May. Picture Craig GreenhillSource:News Corp Australia
In the first two weeks of the trial 300 people were observed to be smoking during patrols. This has now dropped to between 30 and 60 people. The number of discarded butts has reduced from 450 per day to less than 100 now.
Liberal Councillor Christine Forster, who championed the Martin Place trial, said the ban should be extended to the Pitt St Mall shopping area.
“I’m not talking about banning smoking everywhere, it’s legal to smoke and I don’t want to impinge on their right,” she told news.com.au
“The objective is to make sure we can all share these important civic places and we aren’t affected by other people’s activities and make them as inviting as we can.”
The Cancer Council of NSW said the ban should go even further.
“We know that second-hand smoke is harmful to health. There’s no safe level of exposure and in busy areas, with a high concentration of people, exposure to smoke can be similar to some indoor areas,” Scott Walsberger, Cancer Council NSW manager of tobacco control, told news.com.au
Smoke free areas aided smokers in their efforts to quit and helped to “denormalise” the habit, he said.
In NSW, smoking is banned four metres from building entrances, in outdoor dining areas, at bus shelters, railway platforms, sporting arenas and children’s playground as well as some beaches. Smoking was banned in pubs in 2007.
Mr Walsberger nominated the area around Sydney Town Hall and Circular Quay as candidates for a ban. As for axing smoking throughout central Sydney, he said, “If that is something that the city council considered, the Cancer Council would support its introduction.”
However, Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm said the way smokers were being treated was a disgrace.
Pitt Street is Sydney’s shopping hub.Source:News Corp Australia
“Smokers were forced into ever more isolated areas of our bars a long time ago. They are being fined for being near bus stops, and forced into the cold and rain. Now it seems they are not even allowed on the streets,” he told news.com.au
“It is way past preventing exposure to secondary smoke and simply reflects disapproval. There is no other group in society that we treat like this. It is institutionalised bullying and it needs to stop.”
Mr Walsberger said most smokers wanted to quit.
“The vast majority of smokers would have started when they were teenagers and the vast majority would have regretted that. They want to quit and we need to do as much as we can to support them.”
The Martin Place trial is due to conclude next May. A spokesman for Lord Mayor Clover Moore told the Daily Telegraph, the trial may be made permanent and extended to “other outdoor locations”.