Passive smoking continues to be a problem in busy urban areas. State Laws are in place to restrict smoking in outdoor areas like cafes and at building entrances. Local councils have installed signs saying NO SMOKING!
But smokers continue to pollute busy urban areas – pollution of the air, pollution by dropping cigarette butts as well as pollution of their own bodies.
In 2011 Willoughby Council implemented a smoke free policy in the Chatswood pedestrian mall. Despite installing signs nearly two years ago, the policy has had minimal effect. I want to breathe clean air in this busy thoroughfare and I call upon the council to enforce this policy!
You can help by lobbying the council for action and calling out the hazards of passive smoking.
A two-pronged approach is needed – increasing smoker’s awareness of the dangers and annoyances of passive smoking and strict enforcement of outside smoke free areas.
The health problems causes by smoking tobacco have been known for most of the 20th century. German scientists identified a link between smoking and lung cancer in the late 1920s and started an anti-smoking campaign but it stopped because of the events leading up to World War 2.
In the 1950s British researches demonstrated a clear connection between smoking and cancer but this didn’t affect sales. Smokers were well and truly addicted by then. Cigarette smoking has been confirmed by numerous research studies as the leading cause of preventable death from heart attacks, strokes, cancers and emphysema. The World Health Organisation estimates 100 million deaths in the 20th Century as a result of tobacco smoking.
Sales of cigarettes generate enormous revenue for the Australian government, profits for tobacco company and enormous cost to the public health system. Smoking inside office buildings, restaurants and shopping centres has been banned for many years now. This has forced the smokers out on to the streets and into public spaces shared with non-smokers .
So how many people smoke?
The 2012 census conducted in Australia showed 20% of males aged 18 or over smoke and 16% of women. Smokers are certainly in the minority – 1 in 5 men and 1 In 6 women smoke.
Passive smoking – Second hand smoke
Breathing second-hand smoke, also known as passive smoking is a health risk. Not only is the smell of cigarettes annoying to non-smokers, but smokers tend to stub out cigarettes on the ground – cigarette butts often end up in storm water drains and pollute the rivers and the environment.
Second hand smoke causes many of the same diseases as direct smoking including cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer and respiratory diseases. Naturally the tobacco companies will dispute these claims. The impact of second-hand smoke is even greater on children and backed up by many studies.
So why do we – the healthy non-smoking public have to suffer and breathe smoke in busy public places? The Smoke Free Environment Regulation was passed in 2007. This act prescribes the declaration of smoke free areas and signs to be displayed.
But what use is a law if it isn’t understood or enforced?
Willoughby City Council introduced a Smoke Free Policy with the aim of “increase the health and comfort of the entire community by introducing smoke free areas in places where people congregate in close proximity. The Chatswood Mall has been declared a smoke free area.
Chatswood Mall is highly populated with many food shops, outdoor cafes and has daily pedestrian traffic of around 35,000 people – including school children, and mothers with toddlers and babies in prams. So what do we see today – 2 years after implementing this policy –Smokers walking down the mall with cigarettes in hand. Smokers sitting at café tables – and smokers outside building interests. Thee No Smoking signs continue to be ignored.
It’s all very well having signs on seats, rubbish bins and poles but what use is a law without enforcement. These signs are meant to be understood by smokers that they should not smoke in this area. They can smoke in their own home but not here. I want to see council officers visible in the Mall enforcing the rule.
At first, an education campaign should be done for a few weeks targeting smokers – but keep it light-hearted and fun. How about people dressed in a costume to target smokers and offer encouragement to not smoke. Ideally smokers should give up the habit, but first of all to be aware of the penalties for non-smoking and the laws were made . education is also about courtesy and respect for the 80% of the population who don’t smoke.
Please help me in lobbying Willoughby council and demand action on enforcement of non-smoking areas.
Smoke Free Policy Document - the enforcement section says:
In implementing Council’s Smoke-free Policy, a program of community education and awareness specifically targeting residents and day visitors, will be undertaken.Enforcement of this Policy will be supported by persuasion and self-policing, rather than punitive enforcement.
Where is the education program? What does self-policing mean? Who are the policemen?