Drinking and smoking is just as dangerous as eating and smoking

Tuesday 5 April 2016
The AMA applauded Premier Andrews’ announcement last year to ban smoking in outdoor dining areas. However, it is imperative that these laws apply to both outdoor dining and drinking areas. Drinking and smoking is just as dangerous as eating and smoking.
“This is not just about smokers. Tobacco laws have huge implications for hospitality workers’ health, as they spend a significant portion of their shift serving patrons and clearing empty glasses in smoke-filled areas. Exposure to second-hand smoke can lead to cancer, heart and lung disease, stroke, fertility issues, asthma and many other serious health problems,” Dr Tony Bartone, President of AMA Victoria, said.
“Smoking laws must apply to venues’ indoor and outdoor areas where food and drinks are served and consumed,” Dr Bartone said.
In July last year, New South Wales introduced half-hearted smoking laws which only apply to outdoor dining areas. The NSW model has caused widespread confusion as it is unclear what constitutes ‘dining’ – is it a biscuit with a coffee? Some peanuts with a beer? The NSW laws have created an enforcement nightmare for hospitality workers, leading to some venues to stop serving food outside altogether. This model is not good enough.
On the other hand, Queensland has had comprehensive outdoor smoke-free laws for a decade. Café and restaurants’ outdoor areas are smoke-free at all times, with smoking only permitted in designated outdoor areas where food and drinks are not served. This model has been a great success and should be replicated in Victoria.
The AMA has co-signed a statement, along with 14 other leading health and community organisations, calling for the Queensland model to be implemented in Victoria.
“This a community issue, and it’s an OH&S issue. In my view, this is just as significant as the Government of the day’s decision banning building materials that contained asbestos. It’s time for Victoria’s restaurants, pubs and cafes’ outdoor drinking and dining areas to be smoke-free,” Dr Bartone said.
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