Council goes gently on new sports smoking bans

WARRNAMBOOL City Council will take a community awareness approach rather than heavy policing of new state government smoking bans that come into force on April 1. 

New government legislation bans smoking in outdoor areas where children under 18 are likely to be and includes sporting venues during organised underage sporting events. 

But questions have been raised as to the effectiveness of the bans, given the responsibility in enforcing it lies with council local laws officers and not the sporting clubs. 

Club officials and volunteers are not authorised to enforce the ban under the legislation. 

Warrnambool City Council youth and recreation officer Kim White said the approach would be to work with clubs at council-run sporting grounds to raise community awareness about the bans. 

“It’s not about policing, because obviously local laws officers won’t be at every ground every weekend,” Ms White said. “So we are working with sporting clubs to raise awareness of the bans.” 

She said the Readiness for Smoke Free reference group was already working with sporting clubs at 10 council-run reserves. 

Ms White said the “no butts about it” campaign would provide leaflets, posters and other materials to clubs, customised for each venue. 

“They include maps that highlight the areas where smoking is banned for each venue so clubs can start to make people aware of the bans,” she said. 

The AFL Western District commission has also sent clubs a presentation highlighting their roles and responsibilities in relation to the ban. 

Despite council opting for a lighter, more co-operative  approach, Ms White said there would be scope for local laws officers to attend sporting venues. 

“If clubs notice an ongoing issue they can make contact with council for assistance, but we expect instances of that are very small,” she said. 

“We wouldn’t be expecting club members to be ejecting people from sports grounds. It’s more about the community being informed and aware of the bans.” 

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