31 March 2015
Banning smoking in public places is long overdue
For some strange reason the Andrews Government is losing its nerve on banning smoking in public places.
Over its term, the Coalition Government introduced step by step legislation to restrict smoking. This included smoking bans at sporting grounds, schools, hospitals, beaches, child care centres, playgrounds and in other places where children congregate, with the ultimate aim to ban smoking in all outdoor dining areas.
I have long been a strong supporter of banning smoking in public places. We know smoking is bad for your health and that passive smoking also seriously damages your health.
The cost of smoking in Victoria is estimated to be around $2.4 billion each year in direct health costs and lost productivity to the Victorian community. Over 4,000 Victorians die from smoking related diseases every year and many more suffer from this disgusting habit.
The most important third party endorsement of the dangers of smoking is from those people who have seen family and friends die of emphysema, a slow lingering death by suffocation of the lungs.
In the 2014-15 state budget, the Coalition Government committed over $8 million towards tobacco control initiatives, including cessation programs, antismoking advertising campaigns, and education and enforcement activities. Preventative healthcare programs, through Healthy Living Victoria and Healthy Together, have been very successful in encouraging healthier lifestyles across regional Victoria. Whether these important initiatives are to receive continued funding by the Andrews Government is yet to be seen.
I congratulate Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle who advocates a ban on smoking in outdoor dining areas within the CBD, but this needs to be state-wide in order to protect all who wish to dine in fresh air. Victoria is the only State in Australia that does not have a timetable for such a ban.
I call on the Andrews Government to get tough on smokers, ban smoking in outdoor dining areas, uphold the convictions and fines of those who litter their butts and break the law when smoking in non-smoking areas, and encourage smokers to quit by restricting this unhealthy practice in public areas.
Simon Ramsay MP
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Rural and Regional Transport