Smoking regulation (5.8.2014)

Written on the 6 August 2014


Ms CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) -- My question is also to the Minister for Health, Mr Davis, and I ask: Can the minister update the house on the government reforms on smoking in outdoor dining areas?


Hon. D. M. DAVIS (Minister for Health) -- I thank the member for her question and for her strong advocacy on behalf of Victorians in terms of tobacco control. This is an important topic. The state has worked over a long period, over several decades, to reduce the availability of tobacco, to encourage people to quit smoking, to reduce the impact of second-hand smoke and to increase the ability of people to work safely in environments where they will not be impacted by tobacco. That has been largely a bipartisan approach over a significant period of time.

This government has taken steps to reduce the capacity for people to smoke in areas where children and families are impacted, whether that be on our patrolled beaches, in playgrounds or at skate parks, pools or a whole series of locations where children and families congregate.

Equally the government has announced in the last two days that it will take steps to implement a policy to cut smoking in outdoor dining areas -- to actually put in place smoke-free outdoor dining. This will be a significant set of steps. The government will consult with industry -- meaning hotels, catering institutions and restaurants -- and also, importantly, with health bodies like Quit, VicHealth and the Australian Medical Association Victorian branch, and it will craft a package in the next period of government to put in place smoke-free outdoor dining. This is an important step.

Around Australia there are a series of different models in place.

We have the capacity to learn from those places that have implemented outdoor dining bans and achieved good outcomes. I note that the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly welcomed this step but also indicated the need for a period of adjustment to ensure that businesses are not unfairly or unduly impacted. That is very much the government's view -- that we need to methodically and sensibly implement these policies that will achieve a good outcome for the community -- because there is broad support for a ban on smoking in outdoor dining areas but there is also a need to make sure that we learn lessons from other places and that we put in place a model that is effective for Victoria and that allows businesses a sensible period to adjust to those changes.

I believe there will be broad community support, I believe the government has taken the right step by making a very clear in-principle statement on this matter and I believe it will get good feedback and good assistance from the relevant industry and health groups.

I place on record my thanks to a number of the health groups, particularly Quit, VicHealth and the Australian Medical Association, for their contributions and their advocacy over a period.

We look forward to implementing this policy, with broad consultation, in the interests of the community, in particular families, having greater areas for smoke-free dining. We will continue to take the long set of steps to reduce the smoking rate -- which has seen a significant fall over recent years and is now down to 13.5 per cent in Victoria -- even further.

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