A PROPOSED state ban on smoking around outdoor dining areas has been met with a mixed reaction from south-west pub and restaurant owners.
State Health Minister David Davis said the new measures would prohibit al fresco diners from smoking, although it remains to be seen whether the ban will cover non-dining periods.
Reunion Café Bar Restaurant owner Michael McGowan said the ban would have limited impact on his business given only a small minority smoked when dining.
“We have a customer here and there that might choose to smoke outside while eating,” he said.
“Obviously it’s a more popular option in the summer than winter. Having said that, on a Saturday night, out of 100 people we might get only two or three people that ask for an ashtray but it’s something that seems to be on the way out.”
Hotel Warrnambool owner Steve Philpot said the ban should only apply during meal times, otherwise people would be banned from smoking when no food was present.
“If you’re going to do it, apply it only to the times when there’s meals being served,” he said.
“Let’s say, if the kitchen is open between midday and 2pm, 6pm and 9pm, then the ban is over that period and smoking can take place outside those times.”
The Clock Tower Tearooms owner Frank Corona said his business had outside seating especially for smokers and the facilities would be redundant if a ban was imposed.
“We probably get 20 or so customers a day that want to have a cigarette and a coffee or a cigarette and lunch,” he said.
“Most people understood when they banned smoking indoors but when it’s outdoors, there’s plenty of ventilation.”
Mr Davis said the ban on smoking in outdoor dining areas would ensure anyone preferring to eat in the open air could do so in comfort.
He said the new measures would also guarantee the right example was being set for children.
“Evidence shows there is strong community support for further efforts to protect children from exposure to the damaging effects of smoking,” Mr Davis said.
Mr Davis said the state government was set to start the consultation process with businesses and groups affected by the outdoor dining ban, with a range of models under consideration.
The government will also introduce amendments to the Tobacco Act to ban smoking around the entrances to childcare centres, schools, preschools, public hospitals and some government buildings.