Smokers who want to spark up in northern Sydney are going to find it much harder after council voted to ban smoking in the North Sydney CBD area.
The vote passed unanimously at a council meeting on Monday night, much to the delight of North Sydney mayor Jilly Gibson, who has been working towards this for some time.
“It’s a landmark decision for the North Sydney council,” she told Yahoo News Australia.
“We will be the first smoke free CBD in the country.”
The ban will mean smoking is not permitted in all public areas, such as streets and parks but smokers will still be able to enjoy a cigarette on private property.
“I believe our CBD will be a much more pleasant place,” Cr Gibson said. “I think other councils will follow our lead.”
While she admitted that some food and beverage operators were a bit worried about the effects the ban would have on their business, support for the initiative was broad.
Consultation with residents found that 80 per cent of locals supported the move.
“I’ve actually had a vision to make the entire municipality smoke free,” Cr Gibson said, adding that she thinks the entire local government area could one day ban public smoking.
There is no set date for when the ban will come into effect, but it will be “within the next few months,” she said. However there will be no fines or punishment for those who don’t adhere to the new rule.
“We’re not going to be handing out fines, it’s not something we are considering,” she said. “Maybe that’s something we do down the line.”
Ban slammed as ‘ridiculous’ PR stunt
MyChoice Australia, an activist group dedicated to individual freedoms and personal responsibility labelled the move "more nanny state madness!"
Others have weighed in against the ban, including TV personality Karl Stefanovic.
Speaking on Steve Price’s 2GB radio show on Monday night, the two high profile media personalities agreed the ban was “ridiculous”, with Mr Stefanovic labelling it a “PR stunt” by the council.
“Smokers already feel like they are ostracised, like they are some kind of animal people hate,” he said.
“It’s not illegal, and if they do it respectfully from a respectful distance then I don’t see any reason for a ban and I don’t see how you can ban something that’s not illegal.”
Broad community support for smoking ban
In its proposal ahead of the vote, the council said it “has always had a progressive approach” to creating a smoke-free environment for the public.
“Cigarettes are not only bad for smokers - cigarette butts litter our streets and the second hand smoke is detrimental to everyone’s health,” the council said.
“After the successful implementation of no smoking zones around the local government area, Council has resolved to continue these efforts and undertake public consultation to determine community support for making the whole of the North Sydney CBD smoke-free.”
A majority of comments on the council’s Facebook page declared their support for the ban.
“Nothing worse than walking through a cloud of smoke - glad North Sydney is looking at this,” one woman wrote.
“Banning Smoking in the Nth Sydney CBD is a good idea as it promotes healthy living and mindful behaviour with messages to the next generation,” a local Sydney man commented.
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