The Non Smokers' Movement of Australia Inc.
Protecting the rights of the Non-smoking majority from tobacco smoke and the tobacco industry's propaganda.

Smokefree Environment Regulation 2007

NSMA Submission - July 2007

  From: Non-Smokers' Movement of Australia Inc. (NSMA)
PO Box K860 Haymarket NSW 1240 Email:
To: Mr. Ian Martin, Senior Legal Officer NSW Dept. of Health Email:
Submission: Smoke-free Environment Regulation 2007

This submission refers only to Item 6 of the Public consultation Draft.
"Guidelines for determining what places are enclosed"

Our Specific submission in regard to the Guidelines for determining what places are enclosed.

1. We call on the Government of NSW to not renew the current Smokefree Environment Regulation.

2. We call on the Government to acknowledge that an appropriate definition of "enclosure" (as regards the Smokefree Environment Act) must be developed with the aim of improving public health and reducing and finally eliminating workers' and non-smokers' exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke in all public places. The definition should be clear and simple and understood by any reasonable person.

3. We call on the Government, when developing a valid definition of "enclosed", not to take into account any matter such as economic impact, job losses, gambling profit downturn, or charitable donations or any matter other than health and safety.

4. We call on the Government to immediately follow the Queensland model for smoking bans, requiring all smoking areas to be effectively separated from all working areas and unserviced by any employees while smoking is occurring.

5. We call on the Government to ban children from all smoking-allowed areas in all public places, whether indoors or outdoors (enclosed or unenclosed). This will not only protect children and their underdeveloped bodies from the poisons in secondhand smoke but would also help to de-normalise smoking in their eyes.

Background Notes from Non-Smokers' Movement of Australia, to support the abovementioned points.

The NSW Government acknowledges that there is no safe level of secondhand tobacco smoke. Smoking kills. Secondhand smoke kills.

This year the World Health Organisation specifically supports smokefree environments with the following statements:
  • Second-hand tobacco smoke kills and causes serious illnesses.
  • 100% smoke-free environments fully protect workers and the public from the serious harmful effects of tobacco smoke.
  • The right to clean air, free from tobacco smoke, is a human right.
  • Most people in the world are non-smokers and have a right not to be exposed to other people's smoke.
  • Surveys show that smoking bans are widely supported by both smokers and non-smokers.
  • Smoke-free environments are good for business, as families with children, most non-smokers and even smokers often prefer to go to smoke-free places.
  • Smoke-free environments provide the many smokers who want to quit with a strong incentive to cut down or stop smoking altogether.
  • Smoke-free environments help prevent people - especially the young - from starting to smoke.
  • Smoke-free environments cost little and they work!

The Non-Smokers' Movement of Australia (NSMA) began thirty years ago, fighting to protect everyone's rights to clean air, free from the poisons in secondhand tobacco smoke. Clean water, clean air - everybody's basic human rights.

Smoking had been banned on public transport but a bus-driver continued to smoke while driving. A passenger who confronted the driver later accused him in court of assault after the driver blew smoke into his face. The passenger won the case and the NSMA clean air movement began in 1977 with a group of non-smokers who had spent their lives struggling to stay alive amongst family, friends and co-workers who considered it their right to smoke anywhere and everywhere.

Workplaces and public places indoors have been granted smokefree status by State governments far too slowly. Some enlightened local councils have designated many outdoor places, especially children's areas, smokefree, not only to protect children's vulnerable bodies from secondhand smoke but also to de-normalise smoking in their eyes.

Historically, however, bar-workers and others who work in pubs and clubs have been exposed to the highest concentrations of secondhand tobacco smoke in the workplace for the longest time. Their customers never had desks, computers or partitions between them as in offices, never had dining tables or chairs as in restaurants, never had shopping aisles or shelves as in supermarkets. At busy times in pubs and clubs around the country bar-worker's shift could be amongst wall-to-wall patrons with no reason and no laws to restrict their smoking.

As more and more workplaces (and private homes) became smokefree, smokers have come to regard pubs and clubs as their "last bastions", where they could indulge in their addiction in a high degree of comfort.

When visiting pubs and clubs, non-smokers, including members of NSMA have been treated like second-class citizens, jeered at, jostled, derided, assaulted and even ejected when they spoke up to claim their basic rights of clean, smokefree air. Smokers who claimed to have been discriminated against by not being allowed to smoke in some places are reminded that they are entitled to enter any public place, simply not to smoke there. Non-smokers have been forced to stay away to protect themselves from the hazards in the smoke.

It is difficult to believe that it is ten years since, in 1997, a NSW court ruled that allowing smoking near an asthmatic (or anyone with an allergy to smoke) was discriminatory, like placing set of stairs in front of a wheelchair-bound person. Employers in pubs and clubs would not accept that every day they were discriminating against every single worker and patron by allowing smoking in their workplaces.

Bar-workers have been threatened with major job-losses if they spoke up. They knew they could easily be replaced but bar-jobs fitted in with their need to earn income outside normal working hours. Many were tertiary students, or unskilled workers with second jobs to help make ends meet. They were constantly warned that smoking bans in the "hospitality" industry would lead to major job-losses and industry collapse.

When the NSW Government finally looked at banning smoking in the "hospitality " industry, the party suddenly experienced an abundance of funding from the industry, not to assist in making workplaces less discriminatory, or safer for the workers or patrons, but to delay smoking bans for as long as possible. Tobacco, gambling and alcohol are a potent mix, and led to heavy donations to party funds from the industry, funding which come within a cigarette-paper's thickness of being regarded as bribery. Somehow, smoking bans were nothing to do with health, safety or discrimination, but were dangerous barriers to profit-making, jobs, and community donations.

We were tossed a load of nonsense called "Clearing the Air" which depended on an imaginary line drawn 1.5 metres from the bar to stop the smoke from billowing into bar-workers' faces. Predictably, like the pee in the proverbial pool, the smoke didn't stop. But the industry had bought more time and delays.

At last, speaking from the only smokefree pub in the State, our then-Premier Bob Carr announced we would finally get full smoking bans indoors in pubs and clubs, but we'd have to wait even longer as the public would need to be educated "incrementally" into accepting such drastic change. (Funny how the Irish were able to accept their full bans virtually overnight in March 2004). That wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that Irish pubs don't have poker machines, would it?

The final straw came in 2006, when, faced with sending their smoking gamblers outdoors in the coming year, pub and club bosses conducted a deal with the government, also agreed to by the opposition), which makes one gasp for breath in its crassness and duplicity - the definition of outdoors you have when you're not having an outdoors, the infamous 75%/25% definition of enclosed which makes no pretence of a link to health or safety.

The NSW Government's action in making this deal with the "hospitality" industry left us reeling not only with disbelief but also with shame that the oldest government in this country could kowtow to such a deal, and come up with such a flawed definition in response to petty favours and at the expense of workers' and the public's rights to health and safety.

Where is any evidence that such a place, up to 75% enclosed, would be safe under occupational health and safety guidelines? Where is the evidence that such a place won't invite further discriminatory practices against non-smokers?

The only evidence is that the government has shown total disregard for the health of workers and the public and total leave of its right to govern this state.

In building their Smokers' palaces recently, pubs and clubs have voluntarily chosen to make smokers comfortable and willing to continue drinking and gambling. That was the choice of that industry - nobody said that smokers had to be catered for - the industry would have been much better off had it gone smokefree back in 2001 when restaurants went smokefree then banished the smokers to the true outdoors.

Pubs and clubs have greased the political machine, have shown themselves willing, to chop out anyone who was silly enough not to play their games any more (local councillors delaying DAs for "outdoor areas") and have boasted that "Democracy isn't cheap".

During the past few weeks they have proceeded to slime and squirm their way into the paypackets of non-smokers who had until now stayed away from smoking places. Non-smokers would know by now that the pubs and clubs only want to flush their paypackets down the same stinking, tobacco-tainted sewers as the smokers'.

The object of the Smokefree Environment Act 2000 No 69, was and is to promote public health by reducing exposure to tobacco and other smoke in enclosed public places.

The NSW Government now has the opportunity to redress a huge wrong which has been done to workers, patrons, by the hospitality industry and by the industry leaders who, with their former strong links to the tobacco industry have worked very hard and spent considerable amounts keeping people smoking in pubs and clubs and to ensure there are comfortable areas for young potential smokers to meet and even to take up this deadly drug. The combination of alcohol and comfortable surroundings is a prime inducement and breeding ground for young smokers. We need hardly mention the extremely unwise addition of legalised gambling to the mix.

It is time now to redress that wrong.

Margaret Hogge
President, NSMA
31 July 2007

The Non-Smokers' Movement of Australia Inc. Box K860, Haymarket NSW 1240.
This page was last updated on Friday, 19th December 2014