NEW smoking bans will commence in three weeks’ time.
The bans have been brought forward by the Andrews Labor Government to protect more Victorians from secondhand smoke.
Minister for Families and Children, Jenny Mikakos, and local MP Sharon Knight visited the Girrabanya Centre for Children and Families in North Ballarat on Tuesday and distributed signs and other campaign material that will help advertise the new bans. From Monday 13 April, smoking will be banned on the grounds of, and within four metres of an entrance to, hospitals and community health services, schools, childcare centres, kindergartens and preschools, and many government buildings including Parliament, courts and police stations. People caught smoking in these off-limit areas risk on-the-spot fines of $147.
The maximum penalty under the legislation is 5 penalty units, which is currently $738. A campaign to remind Victorians about these new smoking bans commenced this week, including print, radio and online advertising.
The Andrews Labor Government is committed to reducing tobacco-related harm in Victoria. About 4,000 Victorian lives are lost each year as a result of smoking, and it costs approximately $2.4 billion in direct health costs and lost productivity every year. It was Labor that introduced Victoria’s first smoking bans in 2001, introducing bans on smoking in enclosed restaurants, then workplaces, pubs and clubs, and cars where children are present. Smoking is now also banned at train stations and raised platform tram stops, patrolled beaches, and within 10 metres of playgrounds and skate parks, sporting venues during under 18s events and within public swimming pool grounds.
The new bans, established under the Tobacco Amendment Act 2014, were due to come into effect on 30 June 2015 but will instead commence on Monday 13 April to coincide with the start of Term 2.
“Young children and babies are especially vulnerable to the dangers of secondhand smoke,” Ms Mikakos said.
“We want to make sure the places where our children learn and grow are smoke free”.