RICHMOND Valley has become the first council on the North Coast to ban smoking on its beaches and other outdoor public areas.
In a unanimous vote the council voted to adopt a smoke-free policy at its Tuesday night meeting that includes a ban on smoking at sporting fields, outside hotels, near barbecue areas, bus stops and taxi ranks.
“It’s so people don’t get someone else’s second-hand smoke,” Cr Shirley Wheatley said.
“It’s a health and safety issue.”
The ban follows a similar one imposed by Melbourne’s bayside Frankston Council this month.
Other North Coast councils earlier this week refused to rule out following the same path.
Many Sydney councils have also indicated they would be willing to ban outdoor smoking if the Victorian trial proves successful.
Cr Wheatley denied the ban was further encroachment of the ‘nanny state’ with governments and councils telling people what they can and can not do.
“People who wish to smoke have the choice to smoke, but they don’t have the right to smoke near other people who have the equal right to choose not to smoke,” she said.
On the streets of Casino smokers were divided on the issue. Some argued it was an infringement on their rights, while others said they would simply keep on smoking.
“I don’t think it’s real good because you aren’t going to be able to smoke anywhere soon,” said 20-a-day man Scott Knight, who had ducked out of the Commercial Hotel for a quick puff.
“I don’t mind about being pushed out of the restaurants so much, but being put off the street is a bit much.
“Pretty much wherever you go you are going to end up with passive smoking.”
While the six-month trial in Frankston will include $110 fines for smokers caught lighting up, Richmond Valley Council has opted for a more ‘persuasive’ policy.
The plan, which last month was put on public exhibition for 30 days, drew only three submissions.
One, by Richmond Valley/Kyogle Liquor Accord, argued that smokers in breach of the rules should be fined.
Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Hotel said patrons had no choice but to stand in the street to smoke as it had no dedicated smoking room.
Still, when the motion was put, the only discussion it generated was whether the ban should be immediately extended to cover the central business districts of Casino, Evans Head and Coraki.
It was decided during discussion that an extension would be considered after a six-month review.
The ban came into effect on Tuesday night, but Casino smokers can rest easy for the next few months.
A council spokesman said street signage prohibiting smoking won’t be erected until after the beautification of Walker Street was completed.
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