Smokers alienated in proposed bans
SMOKING could be stamped out in public areas across the Northern Rivers under both council and State Government regulations.
A growing number of councils in NSW have created or strengthened their smoke-free policies over the past five years.
As of June 30 2011, 59% of all NSW councils had adopted some form of smoke-free outdoor areas policy.
Richmond Valley was the first council on the North Coast to ban smoking on its beaches and other outdoor public areas in 2010.
The ban effectively stubbed out smoking in down-town Casino by ruling out smoking outside hotels, at bus stops, taxi ranks, sporting fields and near barbecue areas.
Smoking is already banned in outdoor dining areas in Lismore City Council and there are now plans to stop smokers from lighting up within the CBD.
The Council also intends to ban smoking at council events and council owned-and-managed sports and playing fields.
Cancer Council Far North Coast regional programs co-ordinator Rhian Paton-Kelly said these bans protect people from the "toxic effects of smoking".
"Byron Bay also went smoke-free at the end of last year which is a crucial step in the right direction," Ms Paton-Kelly said.
Sweeping changes to tobacco laws are also being considered under changes to the state's Smoke-Free Environment Act.
In spring, the NSW Government will vote on whether to ban smoking within four metres of public buildings.
NSW also plans to ban smoking in outdoor commercial eating areas in 2015. The changes aim to reduce preventable deaths as smoking kills more than 15,000 Australians a year.
NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Cameron Murphy said that while tobacco is harmful, the laws could be difficult to enforce.
"Where do you draw the line, because this is a product people are able to purchase and they ought to be able to use it?" Mr Murphy asked.
"If there's evidence that it is affecting other people's health our view is it's fair and reasonable for governments to take action banning it."
Lismore Council will release the results of its survey into the proposed smoking bans in June.