Expanded Victorian smoking bans to include swimming pools, children’s play areas and junior sports have won wide support, but Warrnambool’s mayor Cr Michael Neoh has called for more clarity on the implications for sporting clubs and recreation reserve owners.
Health Minister David Davis said comment would be sought from local government and sporting groups before the tighter controls become law. “These measures being introduced by the Coalition government will further reduce the range of public areas where smoking is permitted, particularly where children are involved,” Mr Davis said.
Health groups want more reforms to include smoke-free outdoor dining and drinking areas.
Cr Neoh, who is also executive officer of South West Sports Assembly, said ownership and control of recreation reserves was often complex.
“Will the new bans apply to the whole reserve or just the playing area and how will it be managed?” he asked.
“And what happens when there are adult games on the reserve as well?”
Cr Neoh said VicHealth and the sports assembly was already working with clubs to include non-smoking areas and discourage club officials from smoking in public.
“We are working with clubs rather than hitting them over the head,” he said.
Cr Neoh said his view was the wider community would welcome tighter laws, especially in children’s playgrounds, and hoped it would work through community monitoring and self-discipline.
“There is no way councils can have their local laws officers at every playground at every minute,” he said. “The council had discussed developing its own smoking policies and was awaiting the government move.
“One of the key debates is how do you enforce the bans? There needs to be wide support where you rely on people to do the right thing.”
He said a new smoking ban introduced this summer for the beach area seemed to have worked well.
“We haven’t heard of any issues,” he said.