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Outdoor dining smoking ban: all smoke and no fire

Smoking in outdoor dining has been banned since July 6 2015. Source: Wikicommons

BY CHRISTOPHER HARRIS AND PETA GILBERT

No fines or prosecutions have been issued under new smoking laws introduced in NSW on July 6 this year, according to the NSW Department of Health.

But that doesn’t mean the implementation of the new laws has everyone happy, with businesses having to police smokers and apologise to disgruntled customers because of the legislation.

The health department inspected 633 venues during the month following the introduction of the ban.

“Only 14 venues were found to be non-compliant, which is a 98 per cent compliance rate. Two of these venues were in the inner city,” a department spokesperson said in a statement to City Hub.

“These venues were provided with education to support them to comply with the new laws. They have since been re-inspected and all found to be compliant.”

Independent City of Sydney Councillor Angela Vithoulkas said that she did not support smoking at all, but questioned the way the state government had rolled out the new laws.

She said that in her capacity as a small cafe owner in the CBD, it was difficult to comply with the new signage requirements.

“One of the issues with the smoking ban is that they haven’t supplied signage to all the venues, and not having signage means you can get fined for non-compliance,” she told City Hub.

“Why hasn’t there been a marketing assistant working with small businesses?” she questioned.

Smoking in outdoor dining has been banned since July 6 2015. Source: Wikicommons

She told City Hub that the policing of smoking is left to small business owners who have to bear the economic burden of supervising, as well as paying fines for non-compliance.
“It hasn’t changed things for the better as far as the economic impact goes, and I don’t think people have stopped smoking,” Clr Vithoulkas said.

A number of businesses around the city had successfully adapted dining areas to accommodate smokers under the new laws.

But Clr Vithoulkas said it unfairly affected small business owners, who did not have the space for smoking and non-smoking sections, and had therefore lost customers.

Five Boroughs Café on Darlinghurst Road in Kings Cross made their footpath dining area smoke free after the new laws came into effect.

But only weeks later, the area was designated as smoking and no eating because the cafe had lost a large proportion of the business’s smoking clientele.

Across town in Balmain, manager of Dicks Hotel, Michael Nemeth, said he made plans before the laws came into effect, and divided outdoor dining space between eating and smoking sections.

Mr Nemeth said the establishment had been able to manage the implementation of new laws reasonably smoothly.

“Some people can get fired up about it but we have the area heavily signposted and when they order food we tell them where they can’t sit and most people are fine with it but there’s always going to be people that have issues with it but we just tell them it isn’t really our fault, it’s just what the laws are,” he told City Hub

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