SMOKERS are a dying breed and, if a new submission to the state government is received favourably, soon they will be well and truly out in the cold.
A submission from the Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association, the Heart Foundation, Cancer Council Victoria and Quit Victoria suggests smoking bans within 10 metres of children’s playgrounds, four metres of public building entrances and transport stops, as well as at malls, beaches, sporting grounds and public events.
In Ballarat there are examples almost everywhere you can think of where such bans could be difficult to police – specifically, how would enforcement work in the Lake Wendouree precinct? What about open space retail areas such as Bridge Mall or public events like the Ballarat Beer Festival?
The reported dangers of secondhand smoke is the new battleground in smokers’ rights and it is one on which the Victorian Government trails other states when it comes to introducing bans in outdoor dining and drinking areas.
The potential impact on smokers is one issue but the impact on pubs, clubs and other recreational venues might be more significant.
This is where the debate over a particular venue’s responsibility to all patrons and indeed staff is of great relevance.
There’s little doubt that evidence from medical authorities in regard to the dangers of secondhand smoke is indisputable. Whether this is enough to ensure governments will act is entirely separate.
The health lobby is powerful and several changes to regulations regarding smoking areas have been implemented in recent years without the massive impact that opposers had suggested.
This latest strike won’t be popular with all but will hardly be opposed by a majority of residents who are better educated about the impact of smoking than in the past.
A healthier population means a happier population. It also means less drain on taxpayer funds.
The continual push to further isolate smokers is also seen as impinging on human rights might be raised as a potential issue, but it’s unlikely to capture strong support in modern society.
While it is likely that not every proposal presented by the health groups will be implemented by government, it is inevitable that the debate is headed in one direction – and that’s a good result for the health of everyone.