Latest salvo on smokers

A BAN on smoking at outdoor shopping strips is the latest round fired in the war against cigarettes.

Northern Rivers councils will be looking with interest south of the border after a council in Melbourne’s south-east introduced a trial ban on smoking at three of its outdoor shopping precincts.

Frankston City Council will enforce the ban for six months. Smokers will be fined up to $110 if they light up in outdoor areas.

While personally supportive of the move, Lismore City Council mayor Jenny Dowell said there were other steps that would likely be taken before a ban on street smoking took effect.

“Several councillors have made some attempts in the past to introduce a ban on smoking in kerbside dining areas, but there was not majority support,” she said.

“Council’s kerbside dining policy is due for review and I believe there will be renewed attempts to ban smoking in those areas.”

Lismore council has already banned smoking in children’s playgrounds.

Cr Dowell said she was keen to see sporting fields become smoke-free zones, and that there would eventually come a time when streets were smoke free as well.

However, she acknowledged the Lismore region was not yet ready to enforce smoke-free streets.

The move by some local councils to ban smoking in outdoor areas coincides with new State Government laws which came into effect last month restricting the public display of tobacco products in stores.

From January 1 this year, shops employing more than 50 people are no longer all-owed to display the tobacco products they have for sale.

And from July 1 this year, stores with fewer than 50 employees will also have to keep their tobacco products from public view. The same laws also made it illegal for smokers to light up in a car that contains a child under 16.

The trial smoking ban by Frankston City Council comes as new research was released showing passive smoking can have a serious impact on a woman’s unborn child.

The Canadian study found women exposed to passive smoke had ‘increased risks of (having) infants with lower birth weight, congenital anomalies, longer lengths, and trends towards smaller head circumferences’.

Tobacco smoking is still the leading cause of premature death in New South Wales. Smoking caused an estimated 5081 deaths in 2006 and 42,350 hospitalisations in 2006/7.

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