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Greens send smoke-free signals

Greens send smoke-free signals

The Greens will seek to remove fines for errant smokers from the new smoke-free law banning smoking in all workplaces including bars and restaurants.

The Green Party also wants the Bill amended to ban the sale of toys that imitate the act of smoking, to anyone under the age of 18.

Green Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley said today she was still concerned at cigarette toys being sold that essentially teach our children how to become the smokers of tomorrow. In April, the MP exposed the sale, by the $2 Shop chain, of toy cigarettes that exhale a white smoke-like substance when sucked on, aimed at people aged three and up.

Ms Kedgley said today her party's amendments to the Bill would remove all penalties, infringement notices and prosecution procedures for individuals currently proposed in the bill.

"We believe we should rely on social pressure, not penalties, for getting individual smokers to comply with the new law. Smokers are addicted to cigarettes and should not be penalised for their addiction," she said.

"Instead we should focus responsibility on operators of bars and cafes, and on employers. If operators are responsible for ensuring a smoke-free environment, they will have a strong incentive to educate patrons about the new law, to put up appropriate signs, and to remove ashtrays."

Placing the responsibility on operators would avoid government health agencies having to take legal action against smokers to recover fines. It is also consistent with alcohol control laws, which place the responsibility on operators, including forbidding them serving under-age or intoxicated customers.

"Owners and operators of pubs and other premises can already evict people for a variety of reasons," Ms Kedgley said. "A patron's refusal to go outside to smoke would simply be another reason to require them to leave. In rare situations, where a patron can't be evicted, the police could be called to enforce existing trespass laws.

"Enforcement has not been an issue in other places with smoke-free laws, and we do not expect it to be here. In California, for example, where there are no specific penalties, there was 92 per cent compliance after only one year."

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