The Cancer Council has encouraged the ACT Government to ban smoking from more popular public places like Garema Place to shield people from the effects of cigarettes and second-hand smoke.
Smoking has been banned from Sydney’s Martin Place since 2016 and was recently banned in Melbourne’s Bourke Street Mall after community consultation showed compelling support for the smoke-free zone.
While smoking is currently banned at all ACT shopping centres, outdoor eating and drinking areas, within 10 metres of playgrounds and within five metres of all public transport stops, Cancer Council ACT said it would like to see more smoke-free zones around the territory.
CEO Sandra Turner said the ACT Government should consider following in Sydney and Melbourne’s footsteps by initiating a trial of smoke-free zones in areas like Garema Place.
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“Everyone is moving towards more smoke-free areas, which benefits everybody,” Ms Turner said. “We would certainly like to see more smoke-free areas across the territory and I think the majority of Canberrans would support more smoke-free areas.”
As well as making sure Canberrans are not exposed to second-hand smoke, Ms Turner said smoke-free areas can be used as a tool to help people quit smoking.
“If people are unable to smoke in areas where they are working, they may have to travel further to have a cigarette,” Ms Turner said. “We know that most smokers do want to quit and we know that is a very difficult thing to do.
“Having smoke-free areas actually supports smokers who are trying to quit because it reduces their opportunity to smoke and it reduces their exposure to other people smoking. Seeing other people smoking can just provide another incentive to have another cigarette.”
ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said she will be paying close attention to Victoria’s smoking ban in Bourke Street Mall to see how successful the initiative is.
“We are interested in any initiative that aims to reduce the negative impacts of smoking and we will certainly be looking closely to see what Victoria and other jurisdictions are doing in this space, and how successful these initiatives are,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.
“We will continue to look at innovative ways to educate the community about the harm smoking does to individuals and to the people around them.”
The Australian Burea of Statistics 2017-18 health data said that only around one in 10 ACT residents (10.6 per cent) smoke daily, which is one of the lowest smoking rates in the nation. Ms Stephen-Smith said she was proud that the ACT has some of the strongest smoking laws in Australia but said there is more work to do.
“The ACT Government has a strong record on tobacco and smoking reforms and has banned smoking in various public places, including public transport waiting areas and outdoor eating and drinking areas,” she said.
“We have a clear, ongoing commitment to protecting members of the public from the known and potential harms associated with smoking, both tobacco and vaping.”