The Guardian 20 July, 2005

Slowly,
the air clears for hospitality workers


After a long campaign by anti-smoking organisations and the union of hospitality workers (the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers' Union), smoking in pubs and clubs in NSW and at the Star City Casino will be progressively banned in three stages over the next two years. While the Carr government lacked the political will to place a complete ban immediately, it is a step in the right direction.

From July 4, 2005 Phase 1

  • In a multi-room venue, smoking is allowed in a maximum of one room, whether it is a bar, gaming or recreation room. This smoking room must not exceed 50% of the total combined area of bar/gaming/recreational rooms.

  • In a single room venue (i.e. a single undivided enclosed space comprising bar/gaming/recreation area), smoking is allowed in up to 50 percent of that bar/gaming/recreation area.

  • Smoking in toilets, foyers, lobbies, thoroughfares, dance floors and auditoria throughout all licensed venues is completely banned.

    From July 3, 2006 Phase 2

  • Venues are restricted as above, but the area available for smoking in the instances of a single or multi-room venue, must be reduced to 25 percent of that area.

    From July 2, 2007 Phase 3

  • All indoor areas of hotels, clubs and nightclubs that are open to the general public must be completely non-smoking.

  • All areas of Star City Casino with the exception of private gaming rooms must also be non-smoking.

  • There will be no other exceptions.

    What about workers?

  • An eight hour shift exposed to second hand smoke equals half a packet of cigarettes smoked.

  • Second hand smoke kills at least 220 Australians a year.

  • Second hand smoke contains more than 130 chemicals which are banned as unsafe in other workplaces.

  • Limiting smokers' areas means employees will be healthier and less stressed, and employers will reduce their exposure to tobacco-related legal and insurance claims.

  • Management should educate staff about where smoking is and is not allowed. Support them by clearly displayed non-smoking signage.

  • Management should establish and communicate their policy on their preferred way of asking smoking patrons to move to smoking-designated areas.

  • Management should also develop a policy for situations where a patron doesn't leave the area when requested. If the person continues to smoke and doesn't leave the area, the licensee, club secretary or manager should implement their policy for situations where a patron's behaviour is unacceptable.

  • Management should communicate the different phases of the Act via newsletters to members, public notice boards within the venue, and on displays in staff amenity rooms. The new rules will be enforced by Environment Health Officers based in Public Health Units, who monitor compliance, investigate complaints and make inspections.

    To help make sure your local pub or club is complying with the new rules, and to find out how the bans have been received, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) wants to hear what's happening at your local pub or club (www.ashaust.org.au). Individuals have responsibilities not to smoke in non-smoking areas and proprietors are legally obliged to ensure patrons do not smoke in the non-smoking areas of their venues.

    The NSW Department of Health advises clubs and pubs to remove ashtrays, matches and lighters from the relevant new smoke-free area to help signify it as non-smoking.

    Venues can exclude smokers if they smoke in a smoke-free area. Recent amendments to the Liquor Act 1982 [section 103(1)(d1)], the Registered Clubs Act 1976 [section 67A(1)(d1)], and the Casino Control Regulation 2001 [Schedule 6, clause 103(d1) now give venues the power to exclude a patron from the venue if that person smokes in a smoke-free area.

    Areas already smoke-free include shopping centres, malls and plazas, restaurants, cafes, cafeterias and any other dining areas. Also schools, colleges and universities, professional, trade, commercial and other business premises, theatres, cinemas, libraries and galleries, community centres, halls and places of public worship. Plus hostel and motel common areas, trains, buses, trams, aeroplanes, taxis, hire cars, ferries & other vessels, childcare facilities, sporting and recreational facilities, including gyms and bowling alleys and hospitals.

    The costs of smoking

    In 1998-9, tangible costs attributable to tobacco $7.6 billion, to alcohol $5.5 billion and to illicit drugs $5.1 billion. Labour and health costs constituted the major cost components for both tobacco and alcohol.

    Information for employers, workers, patrons and the public

  • CALL the NSW Department of Health Hotline 02 9391 9111 if your local pub or club is not complying with the new bans.

  • CALL the Department of Gaming and Racing 02 9995 0851 if you have been directed to the bar's gaming area or "pokie" room when seeking a non-smoking area.

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