Smoking ban questions for Bridge Mall

Ditchy's view

Ditchy's view

An investigation has been requested into Ballarat City Council’s responsibility for enforcing new smoking bans on Bridge Mall.

Cr Amy Johnson first raised the possibility of a non-smoking zone on the strip in 2015.

During Wednesday night’s ordinary meeting of council she said more clarification was needed on new state government rules.

Changes earlier this year made it illegal to smoke in any dining area where prepared food was being served, such as a pub’s beer garden, or outdoor dining at a cafe.

Cr Johnson said there was no point having a law about smoking if it was not enforced.

“My main query is whether smoking was still permitted in the Bridge Mall, based on the new state government legislation around smoking,” she said.

“I was down at the Bridge Mall Farmers Market on Saturday, and noticed that despite the large number of people in the mall in quite a small area, in quite close proximity to one another, there was still a lot of people smoking.

“The market sells food, there is at least four food vendors that sell straight to people and some also sell fresh product.”

Smokers who break the law face up to $777 in fines, while a business can be whacked $7773 for an offence.

There were exceptions to the rule, including venues that created a four-metre buffer between smokers and non-smokers, or where there were 2.1-metre high cafe blinds.

Cr Johnson said she wanted to know what the ramifications were for people smoking at events.

“I understand a lot of the community aren't aware you are not allowed to smoke,” she said.

Council infrastructure and environment director Terry Demeo said the municipality was responsible for the implementation of the new outdoor dining smoking restrictions.

“We are currently in an education and implementation phase with no enforcement actions,” he said.

“This includes proactive communication with registered food vendors through mail-out and on-site assessment and education.”