Laws to limit smoking areas are lagging
TOUGHER bans on smoking in public places are unlikely to be introduced in the Gympie region, although the issue will be investigated by the Fraser Coast Council to our north when it reviews its local laws later this year.
Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O'Connell said his council had already discussed introducing new bans to stop smoking at taxi ranks and bus stops in Maryborough and Hervey Bay.
But Gympie Mayor Ron Dyne said yesterday there was no plan to do the same in Gympie.
"The last time I looked, smoking tobacco was a legal product," Cr Dyne said.
"There are appropriate restrictions on smoking," he said.
"Until the issue is a Commonwealth or State law, I do not believe that Gympie Regional Council will be having local laws on smoking.
"The council does not have staffing capacity to police the local law; therefore, if it can not be policed, why have a law?
"Before I am critiqued, I have never been a smoker - and that is after 31 years in the Australian Army," Cr Dyne said.
Fraser Coast residents have been telling the council they do not want to be invaded by passive smoking in public areas such as bus stops, taxi ranks and parks.
"Now is the ideal opportunity for the public to tell us how they want us to handle it," Mayor O'Connell said.
State legislation already bans smoking at sports grounds, outside commercial eateries, within 10 metres of a playgroup, around most health facilities and on beaches.
On World No Tobacco Day last week, chief state health officer Dr Jeannette Young urged local governments to be as forceful as possible with their powers to further address smoking in their communities.
Cr O'Connell said while the current laws were already "pretty tight", he would be surprised if the council didn't get any feedback when it put the local laws up for review.
"I think one of the things people object to is passive smoking," he said.