Smoking will soon be banned at entrances to schools, hospitals and certain government buildings as part of new Victorian Coalition Government tobacco control reforms.
Minister for Health David Davis said amendments to the Tobacco Act 1987 bringing these changes into effect had passed through Parliament today.
“The Victorian Coalition Government is committed to improving the health of all Victorians and protecting the community from tobacco-related harm,”
Mr Davis said.
“New laws passing Parliament today will ban smoking around entrances to childcare centres, schools, preschools, indoor play centres, public hospitals, registered community health centres and many government buildings and courts.
“The laws will apply to more than 2,200 primary and secondary schools in Victoria and about 4,200 kindergartens and childcare centres.
“The amendments will also quadruple fines for retailers caught with illicit tobacco and cigarettes.
“This means retailers caught with illicit tobacco and cigarettes will face new fines of over $35,000 for individuals and $177,000 for businesses.”
The new laws and penalties are expected to come into force in mid-2015.
About 4,000 lives are lost each year in Victoria as a result of smoking and it costs approximately $2.4 billion in direct health costs and lost productivity every year.
Mr Davis said the Victorian Coalition Government invests more than $8 million a year in tobacco control measures, including smoking cessation services, research, education and enforcement activities, and anti-smoking social marketing.
“Since coming to office we have introduced an extensive suite of tobacco control reforms to protect Victorians, particularly children and young people, from the harms of smoking,” Mr Davis said.
“Children and young people are especially vulnerable to the health problems caused by second-hand smoke.
“That is why we have banned smoking at public outdoor children’s playground equipment, skate parks, sporting venues during organised underage sporting events, as well as outdoor areas within public swimming pool complexes.
“We have also extended the bans on smoking at public transport stops to include all train station platforms, raised tram stops and bus and tram shelters, and smoking is now banned on patrolled beaches.
“We also recently announced our plan to introduce smoking bans in outdoor dining areas and will shortly start a consultation process.”
Smoking rates have fallen to a record low. Cancer Council Victoria figures show only 13.3 per cent of Victorians are now regular smokers, compared with 21.2 per cent in 1998.
“The continuing decline in smoking shows that the Napthine Government’s investment in tobacco control is paying dividends, with fewer Victorians being exposed to smoking related harm,” Mr Davis said.