From: Non-Smokers' Movement of Australia Inc. (NSMA)
PO Box K860 Haymarket NSW 1240 Email: email@example.com
To: Mr. Ian Martin, Senior Legal Officer
NSW Dept. of Health Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
31 July 2007