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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

ACT bans smoking in outdoor eating areas

-ABC News

The ACT Legislative Assembly has passed tough laws banning smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas.

Smoking is already banned in enclosed areas and the new laws will come into affect in 12 months.

Health Minister Katy Gallagher says it is a substantial step forward in reducing the harm caused by tobacco.
"In 12 months there will be no smoking in Canberra's restaurants, cafes and coffee shops," she said.

"Pubs and clubs however will be able to designate an outdoor smoking area of no more than 50 per cent of their outdoor space."

Ms Gallagher says food and drink will not be permitted in the designated smoking areas and people under the age of 18 will not be allowed in.

"This is protecting workers and members of the public from exposure to tobacco smoke," she said.

"Workers in the hospitality industry deserve the same protection that is provided to those working indoors."
The amended bill also bans smoking at all children's events.

"Not only will our children and young people no longer be exposed to the effects of tobacco smoke but the [ban] will also reinforce the no smoking message, helping to reduce the likelihood of young people taking up smoking," Ms Gallagher said.

The Opposition supported the legislation in general but health spokesman Jeremy Hanson raised some concerns.

"My concern is this will force smokers onto pavements rather than in designated smoking areas," he said.

"If that happens then that will be a negative consequence."