Smokers on the outer as Victorian laws get tougher

A WODONGA smoker has questioned the need to ban smoking in outdoor eating areas as the Victorian government moves to prevent lighting up in the state’s alfresco dining areas.

The ban will take affect — but not before the next election.

Health Minister, David Davis, has said the government first needed to consult industry to determine the details of the ban.

He would not say what the ban would mean for outdoor drinking areas.

Wodonga’s Steve Griffiths, enjoying a smoke and a coffee at Mr Bean in Wodonga yesterday, was shocked by the plan.

“It’s discriminating against us smokers. We are in the wide open here,” he said.

“A lot of people come here to have a smoke and buy a coffee.”

Mr Davis said legislation would “certainly” be introduced in the next term of government — after the November 29 election.

“It will apply to areas where there’s dining and the matters around drinking will be worked out steadily in this process,” Mr Davis said.

The move will bring Victoria in line with NSW, which will next year ban smoking from outdoor areas where food is consumed.

Friends Judy Hollis and Lee Learmonth, of Corryong, were enjoying a coffee outside Zilch Foodstore yesterday.

“I appreciate ‘no smoking’ everywhere, so I believe this will be a good thing,” Mrs Hollis said.

Mrs Learmonth agreed.

“I suffer from asthma and it plays up if people are smoking around me,” she said.

Wodonga’s Tamara Mulrooney, 20, said the move gave smokers another reason to quit.

The Cancer Council said workers in outdoor hospitality areas were entitled to an environment free of smoke.

The Australian Medical Association urged the government to act quickly and ensure the ban applied to anywhere food or drinks were served.

“This smoking ban needs to apply to all Victorian outdoor dining areas, including bars that do not serve food,” the association’s Victorian president Tony Bartone said.

Industry groups have raised concerns about the impact the ban will have on some businesses.

Restaurant and Catering Australia said there were some cafe-style places where people went for a coffee and smoke.

“We say this is not dining,” association chief executive John Hart said.

Victorian Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said the ban was the right step but there would be implementation issues that needed to be worked through.