IT wasn’t so long ago that increased restrictions on smoking areas would lead to a public outcry.
The debate has certainly turned full circle, if this week’s reaction to state government plans to ban smoking from playgrounds and children’s sporting venues is anything to be believed.
The only angst created by the government’s announcement seemed to come from the Australian Medical Association, which claimed the bans did not go far enough.
It says plenty about how much better educated the community has become about the health risks of smoking and the declining rates of tobacco consumption.
It probably also says a lot about the massive hike in cigarette pricing and campaigns to change packaging that smoking has becoming decidedly unfashionable.
What is most interesting, however, is how far governments are prepared to go. Will there be a day when smoking in any public area will be banned? The significance of this conversation resolves around potential negative impacts in the hospitality sector, which is divided over such measures.
While many pub and club operators are on board, many remain frustrated at attempts to push their potential clientele further out the proverbial door.
This is the policy area where it becomes more complicated for the government.
It wants to prevent harm and improve health, but it doesn’t want to adversely impact others indirectly in the process.
The AMA, for its part, reckons it’s a cop out to not to delve further into non-smoking designations: “That will affect far more people, and protect their health, than most of the measures that have been announced in recent months.”
The pursuit of a healthier community is unstoppable. It’s a matter of time before the factors aimed at reducing smoking come together to all but make it a bad habit for a very small portion of the population.
Governments, however, should be acting now and more ambitiously.
After all, the voices of opposition have faded well into the background and are unlikely to be revived anytime soon.