First, Melbourne started discussing banning smoking in the CBD. And now Sydney is following suit.
The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that the City of Sydney council voted unanimously this week to put forward a proposal that would see smoking banned for six months in Martin Place
The proposal was first put forward by Liberal councillor Christine Forster, who says that Sydney “need[s] to play catch up here”.
After seeing smoking bans suggested in other cities (hi, Melbourne!) and public places, she decided Sydney needed to follow in their footsteps.
Melbourne’s City Council has been discussing a permeant ban recently, and Brisbane passed a smoking ban at a central mall in 2011. People who ignore the smoking ban in Brisbane can be fined $220. In Canberra, outdoor eating and drinking areas are smoke-free, and a fine between $200-2000 can apply. Smoking is also banned in Perth’s CBD at Hay St mall.
The Sydney trial ban will start being researched now, and the council will look into how they might effectively implement the ban next year.
“I am not denying anyone’s right to smoke it’s just about saying, as a community, smoking does impact on those who choose not to smoke in public places,” she said.
Councillor Forster said that she didn’t expect the ban would need to be enforced by police, and that signs indicating that smoking was banned would probably good enough.
“It’s not about sending rangers into Martin Place… If we put signs up that will probably be enough for the good citizens of Sydney,” she said.
Further, she said a discussion about whether or not to enforce an entire CBD ban on smoking was “inevitable” for the council.
Of course, just because smoking is banned in certain areas, doesn’t mean that people actually pay attention to that ban. The Sydney Morning Herald reported earlier this year that although smoking is banned at a number of Sydney’s famous beaches, that doesn’t mean that people comply. In fact, there are very few instances of people being penalised when they do light up. Leesha McKenny wrote:
Not a single person has been fined since lighting up was banned from some of the city’s most famous stretches of sand about a decade ago.
Since then, smokers using Bondi beach as an ashtray risked – in theory – a $200 penalty for littering…
The same penalty has applied since 2004 at Balmoral beach – where Mosman Council largely shares Manly Council’s aversion to actually issuing it.
A Mosman spokesman confirmed it had never fined someone $110 for smoking on the sand – even if it had issued infringements to some on nearby beach reserves.
While many have welcomed the recent discussion – others see it as in infringement of their rights. After all, if it is legal to buy cigarettes, why isn’t it legal to smoke them?
But despite protestations from some, it looks like this is going to be the way forward. Maybe even “inevitable”.
Do you think smoking should be banned in public places, such as the CBD in Sydney and other cities? Do you think if there is a ban in place, people need to actually be fined when they light up?