Right: Mind if you smoke? This cartoon from Bennett of the Christian Science Monitor takes aim at passive smoking.
Arguments in favour of smoking being banned in any public space
1. Smoking is a threat to the lives and health of smokers and non-smokers
The ill-effects resulting from smoking for both smokers and non-smokers are incontrovertible.
The Cancer Council of Australia has noted, 'Tobacco smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death and disease in Australia. Smoking leads to a wide range of diseases including many types of cancer, heart disease and stroke, chest and lung illnesses and stomach ulcers. It claims the lives of 15,500 Australians every year.'
Professor David Ball, the chairman of the lung service at Melbourne's Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, has stated, 'Every day I have to tell some Victorians and their families the bad news. With 80-90 per cent of lung cancers caused by smoking, I witness a lot of suffering that could have been avoided.'
It has been claimed that passive smoking, that is, non-smokers breathing in the second-hand smoke of smokers may be equally injurious.
The Cancer Council of Australia has stated, 'Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemical compounds. Second-hand smoke contains many of the same chemicals that are present in the smoke inhaled by smokers. Side-stream smoke contains higher concentrations of many of the toxins found in cigarette smoke, because it is generated at lower temperatures and under different conditions than mainstream smoke.'
Second-hand smoke has been designated as a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the United States National Toxicology Program, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and as an occupational carcinogen by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
The Cancer Council of Australia has further stated, 'The human and health care costs caused by exposure to second-hand smoke are staggering.
In 1998-99, passive smoking in the home caused 224 deaths, more than 77,000 hospital bed-days and over $47million in hospital costs. Children under the age of 15 years accounted for a large proportion of hospitalisations and hospital costs.'
2. Non-smokers, including children and those working in hospitality, should not have to endure second-hand smoke
Health authorities have long warned that inhaling second-hand smoke can be just as hazardous as smoking.
The Australian Government's Department of Health and Ageing has stated, '[Second-hand smoke] exposes non-smokers to most of the same toxic gases, chemicals and fine particles that smokers inhale directly with tobacco smoke.
The particles in the unfiltered smoke that drifts from burning cigarette tips can be finer and more concentrated, meaning that they can be inhaled deeper into the lungs and stay longer in the body of the passive smoker than in the person who is smoking.'
It has been stressed that second-hand smoke or passive smoking is particularly dangerous for children. The Australian Government's Department of Health and Ageing has indicated, 'Even before it is born, a developing baby can be affected by environmental tobacco smoke if the mother smokes or if she is exposed to tobacco smoke during pregnancy. Many harmful substances can reach an unborn baby through its mother's bloodstream.'
The Department has further stated, 'Children exposed to environmental tobacco smoke are 40% more likely to suffer from asthma symptoms than children who are not exposed. An estimated 8% of childhood asthma in Australia is attributable to passive smoking and is estimated to contribute to the symptoms of asthma in 46,500 Australian children a year.'
The Department also claims that environmental smoke inflicted on children has also been linked to childhood obesity, impaired growth, reduced lung-function, increased incidence of middle ear infections and increased absenteeism from school.
It has also been noted that second-hand smoke is particularly hazardous when people are forced to inhale it for long periods of time, as is the case with hospitality workers in outdoor eateries where customers are smoking.
Action on Smoking and Health (Australia) has stated, 'Second-hand smoke is a serious health hazard. It contains more than 250 toxic substances - including 43 known human carcinogens, some of these in the worst category of cancer-causing substances. It also causes heart disease, strokes, chronic respiratory illness and much more... Even low typical doses can cause serious health harm, especially when repeated, for example, where employees are exposed in workplaces...'
A 2009 study of air quality in outdoor dining areas of 12 Perth cafes and 16 hotels has confirmed smoke particles at average levels double recommended exposure limits. The study found exposure levels caused by just two people smoking are a health risk - especially to children and people with heart or respiratory conditions.
Professor David Ball, the chairman of the lung service at Melbourne's Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, has stated that second-hand smoke kills hundreds of thousands of people around the world each year.
Professor Ball has likened second-hand smoke in outdoor eating areas to asbestos contamination. The Professor has stated, 'If a restaurateur allowed asbestos dust to be sprayed around the outdoor dining area, there'd be an outrage. So it's interesting to me that there's a double standard about two cancer-producing substances... I don't think innocent people should be exposed to a cancer-producing substance just because they are having a meal somewhere.'
3. Banning smoking in public places will discourage non-smokers from taking up the habit and will encourage smokers to quit
It has been claimed that banning smoking in public spaces will have a large educative impact.
Those who have not yet begun to smoke will see far fewer people smoking and so have fewer smokers upon whom to model their behaviour. Prohibiting smoking in public places will also encourage non-smokers to ask smokers to butt-out and this too will serve to discourage the habit among potential smokers or waverers.
Prohibiting smoking in public places will also supply as large incentive for current smokers to surrender the habit.
Micaela Drieberg, the mayor of Monash, has stated, 'It's more about creating a community understanding of what is acceptable.'
Fiona Sharkie, Quit Victoria's executive director, has stated her belief that outdoor smoking bans would help people who had quit smoking avoid relapsing and serve to 'de-normalise' smoking.
Referring to those who have quit smoking and are in danger of returning to the habit, Dr Andrew Penman, the chief executive officer of the Cancer Council of New South Wales, has stated, 'For those wanting to give smoking up, it's that much more difficult to quit when surrounded by smokers in playgrounds or while enjoying an alfresco meal.'
Professor David Ball, the chairman of the lung service at Melbourne's Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, has similarly stated, 'A ban on smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas will protect Victorians from second-hand smoke and help quitters to avoid relapse.'
4. Banning smoking in outdoor restaurants and other open spaces where people eat and drink will not harm business
It has been claimed that banning smoking in all outdoor areas where people eat and drink will prove popular and will not harm the businesses concerned.
Dr Andrew Penman, the chief executive officer of the Cancer Council of New South Wales, has stated, 'Businesses can be reassured that the announcement [to ban smoking in outdoor eating and drinking areas] will be good for them; the 2008 New South Wales population health survey showed that for every person who objects to smoke-free dining, seven people favour the move. This means smoke-free dining is good for health, good for dining and good for business.'
The Cancer Council of Australia has supplied the following data: 'Most Australians support smoke-free dining (89%), workplaces (87%), pubs and clubs (73%) and
shopping centres (72%). Indeed more and more Australians are choosing to avoid places where they might be exposed to second-hand smoke. A 2004 survey found that two in five (39.2%) non-smokers always avoided places where they might be exposed to other people's tobacco smoke; one in 25 (3.8%) smokers did so.' Supporters of a ban in all public places argue that the numbers are firmly on the side of non-smokers and that businesses can only gain by catering for the non-smoking market.
There appear to be many restaurateurs and hoteliers who share this view. Simon Coghlan, the part-owner of Ballarat's Golden City Hotel has indicated that he believed Victoria should rule eating areas smoke-free.
Mr Coglan has stated, 'From the perspective of any venue that's involved in food I think it's an entirely appropriate step to take. I think it's reasonable to expect anyone can sit down and enjoy a meal and not be hindered by smoking nearby.'
5. A number of jurisdictions have already banned smoking in public spaces
Anti-smoking campaigners have noted that Victoria has now fallen behind a number of other states and international jurisdictions in protecting its citizens from second-hand smoke.
The potential for hospitality staff and diners to be exposed to second-hand smoke has led to smoking bans for al fresco dining areas in several Australian states including Queensland, the ACT, and Western Australia with New South Wales to follow in 2015. No Australian state has completely banned smoking in outdoor drinking areas, but in Queensland, all outdoor smoking areas prohibit patrons from being served and no food or entertainment is permitted.
Professor David Ball, the chairman of the lung service at Melbourne's Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, has stated that Victoria was once a leader in anti-tobacco legislation, but is now lagging behind the rest of the country which has either banned smoking in outdoor dining areas or has proposed to do so.
Professor Ball has stated, 'The doctors who treat cancer patients are very disappointed and frustrated that a world leader now seems to have stalled in implementation of what we regard as very progressive legislation.'
There is widespread community support for the prohibition of smoking in public spaces. Fiona Sharkie, the executive director of Quit Victoria, has noted that seven out of 10 Victorians want smoke-free spaces outdoors.
Similar results have been found in New South Wales. A Newspoll survey conducted in New South Wales in February 2011 found four out of five people support smoke-free outdoor dining and more than nine out of ten adults believe playgrounds should be smoke-free.
Statistics such as these, together with the implementation of bans on outdoor smoking in other jurisdictions, have led its proponents to claim that there is no justifiable reason for not implementing these bans in Victoria or any other state where they do not currently apply.