Council set for more ‘ambitious’ bans

Bolstered by overwhelming support, the City of Melbourne is set to become “more ambitious” in declaring smoke-free zones.

Councillors last month voted to extend smoking bans to three more CBD laneways but flagged dissatisfaction with incremental progress.

Cr Cathy Oke said councillors should aim for a statewide ban on smoking.

“I fully support this but, if we’re only going to do six each year, we are never going to get to a statewide ban,” she told the Future Melbourne Committee in support of banning smoking in three more lanes.

“In 50 or 100 years time I think people will look back and wonder why we didn’t ban it completely in the first place,” she said.

Council is to prescribe Howey Place, Equitable Place and Block Place as permanent smoke-free areas under Clause 3A.3 of its Activities Local Law 2009.

And it is due to declare three more areas smoke-free by the end of the financial year.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said: “Given the success to date, maybe it is time for us as a council to be more ambitious and think about how we can increase this footprint.”

“Maybe we could be more ambitious and tackle, for instance, alfresco dining and we’d have to do that, I think, in concert with the State Government.”

Cr Richard Foster, who has championed the anti-smoking ban within the council, said: “Council has already agreed to consultation on an additional three zones in this financial year, so that may be the time to take on some of the Lord Mayor’s suggestions about what those areas might look like.”

“And they may not, potentially, be limited to laneways and we may have an opportunity to take up that suggestion and be a little more ambitious,” Cr Foster said.

Cr Foster said the first of council’s smoke-free outdoor zones, The Causeway, had been a financial success for traders.

“The Causeway is the smoke-free environment that people want to be at and businesses have recorded an increase in takings,” he said.

“Families have returned to the area.  Families are sitting down and having meals there and traders are happy about it.”

“With 87 per cent of the population now choosing not to smoke, it’s  no surprise that 85 per cent of people surveyed supported a smoking ban in these three areas.”

“I know that years from now, future councils will be looking back on what we started in 2013,” Cr Foster said.

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