Lismore City Council will decide on a smoking policy for the CBD and other public spaces this year, with the process getting underway next week with a councillor briefing.
Before any decision is made, a public consultation will be held with a survey released and submissions welcomed. Mayor Jenny Dowell explained Council already has a policy on smoking in outdoor dining areas, with cafés required to ban smoking when their lease is renewed. She said with the CBD policy Council needed to balance the need for smokers to have public places to smoke with the understanding that second-hand smoke can have adverse health impacts. She also said there was no rush as it was important for Council to "get it right".
Mayor Dowell has long been a supporter of a stronger CBD policy and she successfully moved as a councillor many years ago to have smoking banned from within 10 metres of children's playgrounds. She also tried to have smoking banned at the Memorial Baths but was unsuccessful in that bid until state legislation caught up and the 'smoking corner' at the pool was closed.
"But many councils have now leap-frogged us with support from the Cancer Council and other bodies concerned with protecting the health of the community," Mayor Dowell said. "Council has talked about what issues there might be in making areas of the CBD no smoking, including footpaths, but there are problems with that as there are still quite a few smokers, although numbers are declining, and those smokers will need somewhere to go on public land. If smokers are forced to go only to certain areas where they can smoke that in itself presents certain difficulties and challenges.
"There are impacts on people's health from smoke and second-hand smoke and also environmental issues with butts. We need to be mindful of those issues when we embark on a new policy."
The briefing will be held next Tuesday, January 31.
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