WE have hidden them away, covered packaging in grotesque images, increased the price and spread the word about the damage they cause, but south-west Victorians are calling for more: ban the cigarette completely.
More than 500 people voted on The Spectator’s poll asking whether tobacco and tobacco products should be made illegal – 300 respondents, 56 per cent, voted yes.
People living in outer regional and remote areas are more likely to be smokers and fewer have avoided at least trying a cigarette than those living in big cities.
Research has proven that passive smoking increases the risk of heart disease, asthma and some cancers, prompting strict reforms from Government at a state level.
Victoriais lagging behind most states, but last week Health Minister, David Davis, announced bans at public swimming pools and sea baths, children’s sporting grounds and other recreational areas such as skate parks.
The new measures build on reforms introduced last year which banned smoking at patrolled beaches.
Consultation with community groups will be sought, in March, but Mr Davis said the latest bans would be in place by the end of the year.
“We know the cost of smoking is a huge drain on the community,” he said.
“More than 4000 lives are lost each year inVictoriaas a result of smoking and it costs $2.4 million in direct health costs and lost productivity every year.
“The State Government will take further steps over time to reduce the opportunities for smoking in public spaces.”
Health groups – Quit Victoria, Heart Foundation Victoria, Cancer Council Victoria and Australian Medical Association – responded to the news by calling for smoke free outdoor dining and drinking.
Victoriais the only state yet to explore such legislation; meanwhileTasmaniahas flagged banning the sale of cigarettes to anyone born after the year 2000.
Locally pubs and café owners agree with designated areas, but foresee huge losses if cigarettes were banned completely.
“Smoking is not a good thing, but smokers still have rights,” The Commercial owner, Janice Holding said.
“It’s not going to stop them, they’re just going to have a beer at home and they’re still going to smoke.
“I don’t go and smoke near where people are eating, but I think I’ve got the right to go down to the pub and have a drink and a smoke.”
Full story in the Spectator on Tuesday February12, 2013