What are the new laws?
The Tobacco Legislation Amendment Act 2012 was passed by the NSW Parliament on 15 August 2012.
The Smoke-free Environment Act 2000 has been amended to ban smoking in the following outdoor places from 7 January 2013:
The new laws also enable Local Health Districts and Statutory Health Corporations to make by-laws prohibiting smoking on NSW Health grounds, such as hospitals, community health services and ambulance stations.
Why do we need to ban smoking in outdoor areas?
There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke. This is the smoke which smokers exhale after inhaling from a lit cigarette.
In adults, breathing second-hand tobacco smoke can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, lung cancer and other lung diseases. It can exacerbate the effects of other illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis. Evidence shows that exposing ex-smokers to other people’s tobacco smoke increases the chance of relapsing to smoking.
For children, inhaling second-hand tobacco smoke is even more dangerous. This is because children's airways are smaller and their immune systems are less developed, which makes them more likely to suffer negative health consequences of second-hand tobacco smoke such as bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma.
Emerging evidence on the impact of smoking on air quality in outdoor locations such as alfresco cafes, at the entrances and exits to buildings and in parks, has found that under some circumstances, tobacco smoke affects air quality in outdoor locations just as much as indoor locations. The impact of outdoor tobacco smoke depends upon factors including ventilation, wind direction and physical barriers such as walls.
Smoke-free environments are a key measure in reducing tobacco related harm and the uptake of smoking.
How were the smoke-free outdoor areas chosen?
There was a focus on selecting public outdoor settings that are often frequented by children and families, or which can be crowded, or at which people have limited opportunity to avoid second hand smoke. Banning smoking in these types of areas will achieve the biggest reduction in smoking and therefore the biggest health gain.
When will the new laws come into effect?
The ban on smoking in some outdoor public places will be as follows:
Within 10 metres of children’s play equipment in outdoor public spaces
7 January 2013
Swimming pool complexes
7 January 2013
Spectator areas at sports grounds or other recreational areas
7 January 2013
Railway platforms, light rail stops, light rail stations, bus stops, taxi ranks and ferry wharves
7 January 2013
Within 4 metres of a pedestrian access point to a public building
7 January 2013
In commercial outdoor dining areas
6 July 2015
To support consistent application of the ban on smoking in commercial outdoor dining areas in licensed premises and restaurants, the commencement of the ban on smoking within 4 metres of a pedestrian access point to a building will be delayed for these settings until 6 July 2015.
How will the laws be enforced?
NSW Health is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Smoke-free Environment Act 2000. NSW Health Inspectors are authorised to enforce the new bans on smoking.
How do the new laws relate to existing outdoor smoking bans issued by Local Councils?
The Act will bring consistency across the state ensuring that all families in NSW have access to smoke-free playgrounds, swimming pools and the spectator areas of sporting grounds in their local area.
The provisions in the Act will not affect additional prohibitions against smoking put in place by Local Councils.
Where Councils have introduced policies which prohibit smoking in settings not covered by the state-wide legislation, such as beaches, or where policies go further than the state bans, they can be enforced by Local Council rangers.
What else is the NSW Government doing to reduce smoking rates?
The NSW Government has established ambitious targets to continue to reduce smoking through the NSW 2021 Plan. The plan states that the NSW Government will aim to:
- Reduce smoking rates by 3% by 2015 for non-Aboriginal people and by 4% for Aboriginal people; and
- Reduce the rate of smoking by non-Aboriginal pregnant women by 0.5% per year and by 2% per year for pregnant Aboriginal women.
The NSW Tobacco Strategy 2012-2017, which was released in February 2012, details the comprehensive suite of policy, programmatic and regulatory initiatives to achieve these ambitious targets.
The Smoke-free Environment Act 2000 requires enclosed public places in NSW to be smoke-free. The Smoke-free Environment Amendment Regulation 2009 and the Smoke-free Environment Regulation 2007 support the on ban smoking in enclosed public places.
The Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2008 regulates the sale, supply, advertising and promotion of tobacco products, non-tobacco smoking products and smoking accessories in NSW. This Act is supported by the Public Health (Tobacco) Regulation 2009.
Social marketing campaigns are motivating people to quit smoking and the NSW Quitline provides smokers with a telephone counselling service with extensive call back and referral facilities.
Other programs target disadvantaged populations with high smoking rates. For example, the Quit for New Life program supports smoking cessation by pregnant Aboriginal women. The AH&MRC Tobacco Resistance and Control (A-TRAC) program aims to build tobacco control capacity of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and the staff employed within these services.
A range of factsheets explaining the new laws are now available.
This guide provides additional information about how to determine where the ban on smoking within 4 metres of a pedestrian access point to a building applies.
A poster detailing the new reforms is also available.