As of tomorrow, Tuesday 1 August, the Victorian Government will enforce changes to the 1987 Tobacco Act effectively banning smoking in nearly all outside dining areas.
Under the new rules, venues have to create a 4 metre buffer between smoking and non-smoking areas or a 2.1 metre wall separating zones.
Failure to adhere to the new regulations will result in a $777 fine for individuals, and $7,773 for businesses, however, smoking will be permitted at an owner’s discretion when food is not being served.
It will be up to inspectors and businesses themselves to enforce these regulations. However, businesses have had mixed reactions to the new changes.
Bryony Fitzgerald, manager of local Melbourne pub “The Last Jar” told The Age “We’re actually quite concerned about how we are going to monitor it because we are a busy venue and during peak times staff are run off their feet as it is”. Additionally, she cited the lack of awareness of the new regulations.
“We’re telling people about the changes when they come in, but nobody seems to even know it’s happening”, she said.
However, in response to the new regulations some businesses are implementing ‘no eating’ zones within their venues.
Paula Lee, manager of Parramatta based venue Arz Bar, told The Daily Telegraph she feared for her business if she failed to provide a dedicated space for smokers.
“I’m not putting up a no-smoking sign out there, I would rather put up a no-eating sign. This is a cultural thing, they come here to smoke shisha. I don’t want them to walk past when they see a non-smoking sign.”