Health inspectors to check on Merimbula smokers

NSW Health inspectors will be visiting the south coast area shortly to check whether smokers are lighting up in designated smoke-free areas and Dr Jo Mitchell, NSW Health Centre for Population Health director told the News Weekly, they can issue on the spot fines.

Dr Mitchell said: “NSW Health inspectors can issue infringement notices at a range of public outdoor areas under the Smoke-free Environment Act 2000. An on the spot fine of $300 applies to anyone who fails to comply.”

The visit to the south coast is part of a state-wide smoking hot spots blitz which has so far taken in visits to 503 sites across NSW. Since the smoking hot spots blitz began, 78 fines and 235 cautions were issued under the Smoke-free Environment Act 2000 in May and June.

Dr Mitchell said: “NSW Health is targeting education and enforcement activity to those areas where compliance is lower, such as bus shelters and entrances to public buildings. This includes working with local councils and other building owners to put up ‘No Smoking’ signage.

“The NSW Government’s continued work in compliance and education will pave the way for the introduction of smoke-free outdoor dining in mid-2015.

“If people think a smoking ban has been broken, they can help direct enforcement and education efforts by letting NSW Health know at www.health.nsw.gov.au/smokefree,” Dr Mitchell said.

Under the Smoke-free Environment Act 2000 smoking is banned within 4 metres of a pedestrian entrance to or exit from a public building. However, Bega Valley Shire Council has approved smoking bans within 10 metres of council owned or managed buildings including balconies, covered areas, public halls, toilets, sports centres, depots, airport terminals, council wharves and jetties, waste facilities, in all alfresco dining areas under license agreement with council and many of the shire’s beaches.

For information on how to quit smoking, visit www.iCanQuit.com.au or ring the Quitline on 13 78 48.

Where the smoking bans apply:

From 7 January 2013, smoking was banned within 4 metres of a pedestrian entrance to or exit from a public building. The ban will be delayed for licensed premises and restaurants until 6 July 2015.

The delay has been allowed to support consistent application of the ban on smoking in commercial outdoor dining areas across these settings. 

What types of public buildings are covered by the smoking ban?

Smoking is already banned in enclosed areas of public places in NSW. The law 

extends the smoking ban to cover the area within 4 metres of a pedestrian entrance to or exit from a public building, such as:

* professional, trade, commercial and other business premises; 

* local, NSW and federal government premises;

* shopping centres, malls and plazas;

* restaurants, cafes, hotels and clubs; 

* schools, colleges and universities; 

* community centres, halls and places of worship; 

* theatres, cinemas, libraries and galleries; 

* accommodation hotels and motels; 

* fitness centres, bowling alleys and other sporting and recreational facilities; and

* childcare facilities.

Bega Valley Shire Council’s procedures prohibits smoking:

* Within ten (10) metres of all Bega Valley Shire Council designated children’s playground equipment.

* Within ten (10) metres of council owned or managed buildings (including balconies, covered areas, public halls, toilets, sports centres, depots, airport terminals, council wharves and jetties, waste facilities or the like). 

* In all alfresco dining areas under license agreement with Bega Valley Shire Council. 

* At outdoor events organised or sponsored by council or held on land under council control 

* On beaches that are monitored as part of council’s Beachwatch program.

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