Business across Yarra will be encouraged to ban smoking from outdoor dining areas, after Yarra Council backed away from a proposed blanket ban on smoking outdoors. The council will also lobby the state government for a statewide ban on smoking outdoors. Councillor Anthony Main criticised the decision: “We’re [Socialist party] all for introducing measures in limiting the impact smoking has on people, but I think this is very impractical.”
Smith Street Traders Association president Joe Arcuri said it was doubtful restaurant or cafe managers would voluntarily ban smokers from their outdoor dining areas.
“My guess is that the status quo will continue. I spoke to a lot of people, and not many were happy with the idea of having to police smoking outside their shops,” Mr Arcuri said.
The council proposed to ban smoking across all council-owned parks, ovals and playgrounds, council-funded events and outdoor dining in March. Last month, MTW revealed the community was split over the issue, with one-third of 210 residents surveyed on the issue supporting the ban. Twenty-three per cent were opposed, while the rest were unsure. There was strong support for banning smoking in children’s playgrounds.
Some traders and residents argued banning smoking at outdoor dining venues would unfairly hurt local businesses, as smokers could choose to visit cafes and restaurants in neighbouring municipalities. Supporters said more smoke-free areas would encourage more people to visit those businesses.
The decision is consistent with the Municipal Association of Victoria’s approach, which in September proposed a statewide framework for banning smoking in public places.
MAV president Bill McArthur said there was broad support from councils for a state government-led initiative. “Smoke-free alfresco dining and playgrounds already exist or are proposed by state governments in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania,” Cr McArthur said.