AS THE region's smokers prepare themselves for on-the-spot fines if caught lighting up within five metres of Gympie Hospital, they will also have to remember to steer clear of schools.
The new law caused a stir on The Gympie Times' Facebook page after a story about its application at hospitals featured in Saturday's paper. However, it has now been revealed that all schools, both state and non-state, would also be on the banned list.
Anyone caught smoking on or within five metres of Queensland Health or any school grounds may have to cough up a minimum $227 on-the-spot fine from January 1.
The new rules will likely mean smokers would have to cross the road away from Gympie Hospital and most of the region's schools if they want to comply with the five-metre rule.
Acting Health Minister Mark McArdle said the changes to the Tobacco and Other Smoking Products Act 1998 aimed to make Queensland a healthier place to live and raise a family.
"Second-hand smoke causes 10% of deaths due to smoking-related diseases, so the buffer around schools and health facilities will help disperse smokers that congregate at entry and exit points," he said.
"The non-smoking five-metre buffer zones will also ensure smokers extinguish their cigarettes well before entering the school or health grounds."
The new laws apply to all public hospitals and healthcare facilities (including public community health centres, aged care facilities, mental health facilities and rehabilitation facilities) as well as private hospitals and day hospitals.
If smoking is pushing you further away from your family, seek assistance by phoning 13 QUIT (13 78 48).