Passive smoking kills: Should it be banned in CBD?
FOLLOWING a Bundaberg CBD business community forum last month, the NewsMail's online audience got talking about things that were important to them in the city's CBD.
A lack of parking in peak times has long been a hot topic among readers, with many calling for more spaces.
But when the NewsMail ran a poll asking readers what bugged them most in the CBD, parking took second place to smoking.
Of all the options given in the NewsMail's online poll, concerns over smoking in the CBD took 23% of votes - 3% more than concerns there weren't enough parks.
The vote results coincide with Australia's toughest anti-smoking laws coming into effect in Queensland.
Smoking is now prohibited at bus stops, taxi ranks, ferry terminals or any public transport waiting point, under-18 organised sporting events and skate parks, at and around early childhood education and care facilities and at public swimming pool complexes.
However, despite the inclusion of a law against smoking within five metres of shop entrances, so far no one in the CBD has been fined for the offence by Queensland Health or Bundaberg Regional Council.
Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service Public Health Unit director Dr Margaret Young said it was not an offence to smoke in the CBD unless it was within five metres of a shop door.
"It is not currently an offence under tobacco legislation to smoke in the Bundaberg CBD, unless the person is smoking within five metres of an entry to an enclosed place (doorway); or smoking at or near a public transport waiting point (bus, train, taxi, ferry, limo) which includes five metres from the queue," she said.
"To date, no fines (prescribed infringement notices) have been issued by the WBPHU for breaches of the five metre rule.
"Community education is under way to raise awareness and knowledge of the recent changes to legislation."
Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said the new anti-smoking laws that were in place were designed to protect all Queenslanders from harmful second-hand smoke, to further encourage smokers to quit, and importantly, to discourage young people from ever starting to smoke.
"But smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke remains a major public health issue," he said.
It's a sentiment echoed by Cancer Council Queensland CEO Professor Jeff Dunn who says passive smoking is a very real danger.
"Almost one Queenslander will die every day from inhaling tobacco smoke, without ever having smoked a cigarette in their life," he said.
Dr Young said any decision to outright ban smoking in Bundaberg's CBD rested with the council.
"Section 26ZKA of the legislation mentions malls and prohibits smoking in them, however we do not have a mall in Bundaberg," she said.
"There is provision under tobacco legislation for any local government to make a local law prohibiting smoking at a place under their control, however these powers have not utilised by Bundaberg Regional Council at this stage."
A spokesperson for Bundaberg Regional Council said they would assess the situation.
"Council aims to assess the impacts of the new State Government legislation before considering any decision to progress the bans further," they said.