Council considers outdoor smoke free zones

SMOKE-FREE: Louisa Hurney enjoys a coffee and daughter Eliza, 8, has a milkshake in the smoke-free outdoor area of Singleton’s One-O-One Coffee House.
SMOKE-FREE: Louisa Hurney enjoys a coffee and daughter Eliza, 8, has a milkshake in the smoke-free outdoor area of Singleton’s One-O-One Coffee House.

CIGARETTE smoking in outdoor areas around Singleton shire may soon be extinguished.

State government officials have children’s playgrounds, public sportsgrounds, bus shelters, taxi ranks, outside public buildings and commercial outdoor dining in their sights and Singleton Council representatives are working on their own policy.

Pedestrian malls, parks, reserves and council run and sponsored events may be considered smoke-free zones. The potential extent of bans is expected to become clearer in about two months when the council’s draft smoke-free outdoor policy is made public.

Backing for such a policy followed a presentation to this week’s regular council meeting by New South Wales Cancer Council programs coordinator Kath Duggan and Heart Foundation promotions coordinator Penny Milson.

Ms Milson said tobacco smoke included 62 known cancer-causing chemicals and resulted in more than 15,500 Australian deaths every year.

Breathing other people’s smoke could make asthma symptoms worse and increase the risk of heart disease, lung cancer, bronchitis, pneumonia and cot deaths.

Ms Duggan said eight Hunter Valley councils had banned smoking in playgrounds, seven disallowed it at sports fields, seven had stopped it at public swimming pools and four had banned it at commercial outdoor dining venues.

Singleton’s public swimming pool is the only sites in the shire at this stage where outdoor smoking was banned.

Council general manager Lindy Hyam told The Argus yesterday she had first hand experience with the impacts of smoking.

Both she and her husband were asthmatics and she believed her breathing condition was directlty related to her upbringing in a smoky home environment.

Government policy on playgrounds, sportsgrounds, bus shelters, taxi ranks, within four metres of public buildings is expected to be introduced in September.

A government ban on smoking in commercial outdoor dining venues is expected to be introduced in 2015.

Mrs Hyam said the question of smoke-free outdoor areas would be considered by the council’s work, health and safety committee and Singleton’s sports council as part of the process to devise a draft policy which she expected to be ready in a few months.

“The council is sympathetic with the intent of smoke-free outdoor areas and we’re looking at the degree to which it has been taken up by other Hunter councils,” she said.

“We’d especially like to pick up on outdoor areas where children are and that’s why we’ve referred it to the sports council.”

During her presentation, Ms Duggan noted some commercial eating establishments had voluntarily introduced smoke-free outdoor areas, such as Singleton’s One-O-One Coffee House.

One-O-One owner Ann MacPherson told The Argus: “We opened about two and a half years ago and the idea just came naturally right from the start.

“It’s never been an issue, it’s smoke-free inside and the same in the courtyard.

“We do have one table to the side outside if people choose to smoke, but the general public respect non-smokers and, like I said, it’s never been an issue.”