BY assistant Prof Bruce Baer Arnold
MEEGAN Fitzharris says public playgrounds and play spaces in the ACT will be smoke-free as of tomorrow, Wednesday September 7.
“The declaration of these new smoke-free areas is the first to be made by the ACT Government under the Smoke-Free Public Places Amendment Bill 2016, which was passed in the ACT Legislative Assembly earlier this year.
“It also follows recent community consultation that showed overwhelming support for the proposal, with 98 per cent of respondents in favour of restricting smoking in ACT public playgrounds and play spaces, bringing the ACT into line with other jurisdictions.
“Playgrounds and play spaces across Canberra are wonderful places where children can run around and have fun and where families and friends can catch up over a barbecue or game of soccer.
“We want to ensure our playgrounds and play spaces are vibrant, healthy places for families to be in and that they help foster in our kids healthy social, physical and mental development.
“In July and August, we asked Canberrans to have their say on whether ACT playgrounds and play spaces should be declared smoke-free. As part of this consultation, respondents were overwhelmingly supportive of the proposal, with 98 per cent of the 307 complete submissions we received in favour.
“With this feedback from the community, as of tomorrow (7 September 2016) smoking will be prohibited within 10 metres of play equipment at ACT Government managed playgrounds and play spaces.
“Smoke-free areas are a vital tool to reduce tobacco related harms in our community and today’s announcement is an important step forward in helping to reduce our community’s exposure to harmful second-hand tobacco smoke and the role modelling of smoking behaviours in our young people.
“Second hand smoke can be particularly harmful to children because their lungs are still developing and they have a higher risk of health conditions such as middle ear infections, upper and lower respiratory infections, asthma, chronic cough and developmental delays, which can be exacerbated by exposure to second hand smoke.
“Through this initiative the ACT Government aims to protect the health of the community and ensure all Canberrans can enjoy public play spaces without exposure to second-hand smoke,” Minister Fitzharris said.
‘No smoking’ signs will now be installed at ACT public playgrounds and play spaces and fines may apply for smoking in a declared smoke-free play space. Access Canberra Inspectors and AFP ACT Policing officers have enforcement powers under Smoke Free Public Places Act 2003. Transport Canberra and City Services City Rangers will also be authorised to enforce smoke-free play spaces.
The Smoke-Free Public Places Amendment Bill 2016, which was passed in the Legislative Assembly in March this year, enables the Chief Minister and responsible Minister to jointly declare new smoke-free areas in the ACT under the Smoke-Free Public Places Act 2003.
To find out more go to: health.act.gov.au