A man emailed me last week, appalled to see a young baby seated near smokers (including its parent) in a pub beer garden.
He was even more appalled when I told him this was still legal under current NSW smokefree laws – and with no end in sight.
New smokefree legislation now before the NSW parliament makes some welcome steps forward – but still leaves many children facing significant secondhand smoke exposure in crowded public places including so-called “outdoor” smoking areas in pubs and clubs – and even in alfresco dining areas until at least 2015.
The health evidence on harm to children from tobacco smoke exposure is compelling. The government’s NSW Tobacco Strategy 2012-17 sets out actions the government will take to reduce tobacco harm - especially to children, who are especially vulnerable.
Under legislation introduced by the government, several public outdoor areas will be made smoke-free, including children’s playgrounds, public sports grounds and swimming pools, public transport stops and entrances to public buildings. These are welcome.
The government has committed to end smoking in public dining areas – both licensed and unlicensed – but not until 2015, when a Memorandum of Understanding with Clubs NSW expires. Under this memorandum, the government agreed not to change smoking rules in licensed venues during its first term. So while outdoor dining is now smoke free in most states, in NSW we wait on.
The smoke free legislation has passed the Lower House and now goes to the Upper House – where amendments moved by the Greens would end or restrict smoking in these child-accessible spaces. These amendments might pass the Upper House but would then go back to the Lower House for passage of the amended bill.
The Protecting Children from Tobacco coalition of 42 child welfare, health, equity, church and other bodies at ASHis calling for passage of amendments to fully protect children from secondhand smoke.
We urge everyone concerned to communicate their views to local MPs, MLCs, the Health Minister and all NSW parliamentary parties.
MP contacts are at NSW Parliament Website
ASH Australia http://www.ashaust.org.au/
Coordinator, Protecting Children from Tobacco