Outdoor smoking locations will be ditched at coffee shops and restaurants across Melbourne since owners don’t have the space to install the buffer zones the government will soon enforce. From August 1st restaurants will need to install a four metre buffer or plastic walls to protect diners from smoking consumers.
However various cafe and restaurant owners warn that they do not have the area to comply with the new laws and will shun smoking consumers, telling them to butt out completely.
Restaurant and Catering Industry Association Boss John Hart stated that tonnes of eateries had already indicated to the union that they would have to do away with designated smoking areas. “Most dining establishments will just decide to have a dining area with no smoking,” said Mr John Hart.
John indicated that a majority of restaurant owners prefer to be non-smoking anyway and the law will help them to enforce that. The dining establishments most affected by this law are lunch cafes as “individuals go for a break and a cigarette, people go for a coffee, a snack and a smoke.”
Mr Hart also said the ban was unpopular in “ethnically diverse” locations where stamping out a well established smoking restaurant culture was expected to be an obstacle. The key areas for this comment were Lygon and Gertrude streets in Carlton and Oakleigh’s Eaton Mall.
Thousands of places were considering how the modifications would affect their companies. The relocation comes as the State Federal government prepares to launch a public awareness campaign in May. Health Minister Jill Hennessy said the law was an action closer to a healthier restaurant culture in Victoria.
Hennessy went on to say “we understand smoking kills, that’s why we’re doing something about it to safeguard Victorians from the dangers of second-hand smoke,”. “Our new laws will mean Victorians and their families can enjoy their meals outside in a healthier, safer and smoke-free environment.
“We’re working with companies to make sure they have the versatility they need to adhere to the new laws, with a variety of different options available to them”. Where the room for the buffer isn’t available, cafes can work on their take away meals and other offerings so they can still enjoy their coffees, snacks and smokes without affecting other people.
Pubs and hotels have also been assessing the effect of the changes. However Australian Hotels Association Victoria chief executive Paddy O’Sullivan said such places were less likely to be affected.“The new restrictions reflect community expectations of restrictions relating to smoking from dining in an outdoor area.’’
The upcoming law will require restaurants, cafes and pubs to:
- Ban smoking in outside dining locations while food is served
- Permit cafes to adopt a non-smoking policy throughout lunch and supper
- Display no smoking signage in any dining location.
- Install four meter buffer zones or a 2.1m blinds to stop smoke drifting from designated smoking locations to eating locations
Smoking customers will still be able to order snacks and drinks in smoking areas, the experience will be the same, and they will just be partitioned off from other patrons.
Those individuals that are game enough to try and disobey the new laws will be slapped with fines ranging anywhere from $155 to $777. Businesses who do not comply and put up the appropriate partitions and signage will face fines of up to $7773.