Victoria’s heath minister, Jill Hennessy has announced that all outdoor dining areas in the state will become smoke free as of August 2017.

Hennessy said that the two year lead up will give operators ample time to start introducing the legislative changes before the 2017 ban comes into effect.

"We want to reduce the visibility of smokers, we want to de-normalise smoking for young people – we've got to challenge around 80 percent of smokers taking up smoking before they're 18," Hennessy told ABC News.

Chief executive of the Victorian Cancer Council, Todd Harper said that at present, 13 percent of Victorians smoke at a cost over $2 billion to the state’s healthcare system. Research from the Victorian Cancer Council has also shown that 73 percent of Victorians are in favour of the ban.

“We haven’t seen the detail yet, and that’s because there is a consultation period,” Harper told The Guardian.

“Ultimately, how effective the smoke-free laws are will be seen in how well they protect hospitality workers from tobacco smoke, because they are the ones who spend the most time in these environments.

“We’re not concerned that it will take until 2017 to implement this ban, so long as that time is well spent properly consulting to ensure the legislation, when implemented, protects workers as effectively as possible.”

In July this year, NSW introduced a smoking ban for all commercial outdoor dining areas, ACT in 2010 and Queensland as far back as 2006. Victoria is the last Australian State to introduce smoke free dining legislation.

Professor of health policy at Curtin University and president of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health, Mike Daube believes that the two year lead time should be pushed forward.

“It isn’t rocket science – Victoria could simply follow the example of the other states where this legislation has been in place for years,” Daube told The Guardian.

“It is a concern that a two-year delay gives the tobacco industry and its allies time to lobby for more delays and exemptions.”


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