Smoking ban tipped for Bourke Street Mall, but vaping to be allowed
Updated September 13, 2019 13:30:16
Smoking is set to be stubbed out in Melbourne’s Bourke Street Mall to shield people from the effects of cigarettes and second-hand smoke — but vaping would be allowed.
- City of Melbourne councillors will vote on whether to ban smoking in Bourke St Mall next week
- A report found the majority of people surveyed supported the ban
- People caught smoking after January 2020 could face a $100 fine
The proposed zone covers Bourke Street between Elizabeth Street and Russell Place and includes footpaths, tramways and roads.
Following community consultation, a report to the City of Melbourne showed compelling support for a smoke-free zone.
Of more than 3,100 people surveyed, 83 per cent supported the ban, and 83 per cent of almost 170 business owners also supported the move.
Under state legislation introduced in 2017, the use of e-cigarettes, or vaping, is banned in Victoria’s smoke-free spaces.
But Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Sally Capp said vaping would be an exception under the new council policy.
“I think everybody is trying to catch up with vaping, it’s not part of the policy at the moment,” she told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“There are more than 60,000 workers and visitors around the Bourke Street Mall every day. We feel very strongly to make sure it’s a safe and welcoming environment.
“They deserve an environment where they can be smoke-free.”
Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton released an official health advisory on Friday about vaping, warning “international evidence is emerging of a possible link between the use of e-cigarettes and lung disease”.
“E-cigarettes are relatively new products and the long-term safety and health effects associated with their use and exposure to second-hand vapour are unknown,” Dr Sutton said.
A City of Melbourne spokeswoman said the council would look at its local law to see if it could be updated to include e-cigarettes.
People caught smoking in the area could face a $100 fine, although Cr Capp conceded it would be “very difficult” to enforce the ban. The council has issued 26 fines for smoking in banned areas since 2015.
The council’s report stated the council would focus on education until the end of January before enforcement was implemented.
Council says move in line with other cities
Almost 70 per cent of 467 smokers said they were supportive of or neutral to the ban, but the report also said 39 per cent of smokers questioned in Bourke Street, “believe wider prescription of smoke-free areas would make them definitely quit or consider quitting smoking”.
The report also outlined concerns about areas people would be allowed to smoke in.
“This is particularly relevant for certain groups, such as those experiencing homelessness or international students who may be more likely to be impacted by the ban in this area,” the report said.
Cr Capp said the move mirrored policies in other Australian capitals, where smoking has been banned in certain areas.
City of Melbourne councillors will vote on the ban at a council meeting next Tuesday.
The area would make Bourke Street Mall the 11th smoke-free zone in the City of Melbourne.
Current areas already smoke-free in the City of Melbourne are The Causeway, Howey Place, Block Place, Equitable Place, Goldsbrough Lane, QV Melbourne, The Tan and Princes Park tracks, Collins Way, and Fulham Place.
First posted September 13, 2019 07:14:11