SMOKEFREE LAWS: AUSTRALIAN STATES AND THE WORLD
Australian states and territories have their own separate smokefree public places laws. See state/territory smokefree workplace scoreboard below for roundup and links to details.
Smoky workplaces - including partly-enclosed smoking areas in pubs and clubs - are a public health hazard, and undermine work safety laws requiring employers to maintain safe workplaces. Again, each state and territory has its own laws in this area - many of them are selectively ignored.
Smoky workplaces also conflict with federal and state disability discrimination laws in denying people with smoke-affected disabilities fair employment in, and access to, venues.
See the worldwide trend towards smokefree workplaces - which countries have done what - and the relevant international treaties we have commitments to.
See the latest Australian and
news - courts increasingly pointing to a
responsibility to get smoking areas separated from non-smoking (including
working, eating and gaming) areas.
STATE/TERRITORY SMOKEFREE WORKPLACE SCOREBOARD
Australian governments are best protecting workplace safety and public health?
(in order of effective public and workplace health protection; based on existing legislation, regulations or dated government commitment)
|Protection level||SmokeFree workplaces||Working areas still smoke-contaminated|
|1||Tasmania||Excellent||Totally enclosed areas; all staffed licensed areas; all outdoor dining areas; many recreation/sports areas; bus shelters. All gaming areas, no exemptions. Work vehicles.||None known.|
|2||Queensland||Very good||Totally enclosed areas; all outdoor or part-enclosed public areas with food/drink service, eating, gaming, live entertainment. Some other sports/outdoor areas also smokefree.||High roller gaming rooms;
some outdoor working areas.
|3||Australian Capital Territory||Very good||Totally enclosed areas; all outdoor or part-enclosed public areas with food/drink service, eating, gaming, live entertainment. All gaming areas, no exceptions.||Some outdoor working areas.|
|Very good||Totally enclosed licensed areas; 50% of licensed outdoor areas - including all meal consumption/ drink service/ gaming/ entertainment/ child-accessible areas.||High roller gaming rooms. Some outdoor working areas.|
|5||Western Australia||Good||Totally enclosed public areas; work vehicles; all unlicensed food service areas; 50% of licensed food service areas; some other outdoor areas.||High roller gaming rooms; up to 50% of licensed crowded eating/drinking/working areas. Some outdoor areas.|
|Poor||Totally enclosed public areas. All gaming areas - no exceptions.||"Outdoor" (enclosed up to 70%) areas but licensed and unlicensed, including staffing (eating, drinking, live entertainment). Some outdoor areas. Promise of all public dining areas smokefree by 2016.|
|7||Victoria||Poor||Totally enclosed public areas; gaming areas except high roller rooms. Smokefree outdoor dining reportedly under consideration.||High roller gaming rooms; "outdoor" (enclosure up to 75% plus roof) staffed areas (eating, drinking, live entertainment) - both licensed and not. Some outdoor areas. No deadline for smokefree dining.|
|8||New South Wales||Poor||Totally enclosed public areas only (except high roller/"private" gaming rooms). Some sports/outdoor areas and transport stops soon smokefree (announced Feb 2012)||7 High Roller/"private" gaming rooms exempt; "outdoor" (enclosed up to 75%) staffed areas (including eating/drinking/entertainment/gaming) - both licensed and not. Some outdoor working areas. Weak OHS enforcement. All public dining areas legislated to be smokefree by 2015.|
State & Territory details:
for current tobacco legislation:
ACT NSW NT Queensland SA Tasmania Victoria WA
Tasmania: EXCELLENT. First Australian jurisdiction to legislate to make enclosed areas of pubs and clubs smokefree, in 2006. No exemption for "high roller" gaming. And from 1/3/12 all public outdoor dining areas smokefree, plus outdoor sports events, playgrounds, patrolled swim areas, pedestrian malls and bus shelters. Remaining licensed venue smoking areas must be substantially outdoors, separate and unstaffed - no eating, drinks service, live entertainment or gambling. See current Tasmanian tobacco legislation
Queensland: VERY GOOD. For some years Australia's best practice legislative model - with strong community approval, high compliance, no apparent legal dispute - but now shaded by Tasmania which has adopted similar rules but with no "high roller" gaming exemptions. All indoor areas of pubs and clubs, all public dining areas smokefree. Remaining licensed venue smoking areas must be substantially outdoors, separate and unstaffed - no eating, drinks service, live entertainment or gambling. Smokefree exemption for "high roller" gaming rooms the remaining blot - Qld said it wanted to agree with other states to end this, but it hasn't happened. Current Queensland tobacco legislation
In 2007,Queensland's then Deputy Premier and Treasurer (and later Premier) Anna Bligh put the whingeing tobacco-gambling lobby firmly back in its box. Acknowledging a gambling revenue hiccup after smokefree changes in her state, she said: "We are in no way disappointed with any revenue drop. Every dollar we miss here is more than made up by what we won't have to spend on smoking-related health matters now and in the future." See extract of her media release
ACT: VERY GOOD. After its "75/25%" formula proved ineffective and unpopular, moved to more effective comprehensive strategy: legislation passed 2009 made all public eating and drinking areas smokefree from Dec. 2010, plus underage events of whatever enclosure. No gaming exemptions but a few gaps in other public areas. Current ACT tobacco legislation
NT: VERY GOOD. The last jurisdiction to end to smoking in totally enclosed areas of licensed premises, January 2010. But from Jan. 2011 made smokefree all public eating, gambling (except casino high roller rooms) and live entertainment areas - similar to Qld (above). Current NT tobacco legislation and SmokeFree Australia release 10/9/09
WA: GOOD. All "indoor" (more than roof + 50% walls) licensed areas smokefree; "high roller" gaming rooms exempt. All unlicensed outdoor dining areas, and 50% of licensed "outdoor" areas, smokefree from Sept. 2010. Current WA tobacco legislation See WHAT STILL NEEDS FIXING
SA: POOR. Totally enclosed areas are smokefree - with no exemption for any gaming areas. This still leaves fake "outdoor" areas (up to 70% enclosed) smoky - and staffed. No indication of any move forward, despite health evidence and strong public support. Current SA tobacco legislation Timeline details WHAT STILL NEEDS FIXING
Victoria: POOR. Totally enclosed areas smokefree, but still leaves many smoky "outdoor" spaces as much as 75% enclosed (plus roof), including staffed and eating areas despite good evidence of harmful exposure. All gaming areas smokefree - except "high roller" gaming room. No indication of any move forward, despite health evidence and strong public support. Current Victorian tobacco legislation WHAT STILL NEEDS FIXING
NSW: POOR. As many as 8 "high roller" and "private" gaming rooms exempt, some totally enclosed. No smoking in other totally enclosed areas - but a weak up-to-75%-enclosure loophole, allowing many eating, gaming, live entertainment and other heavily staffed areas to stay smoky - no deadline to end these exemptions despite strong evidence of widespread harmful exposure and public support for 100% smokefree. Legislated 2012 to end smoking in commercial dining areas by July 2015. Some other enclosed workplaces not accessible to the public also remain smoke-contaminated, with WorkCover taking weak line of permitting "managing" rather than eliminating secondhand smoke unless specifically prohibited under Smoke Free Environment Act. Current NSW tobacco legislation and NSW Tobacco Strategy 2012-17 Call NSW Department of Health tobacco info hotline (toll free) 1800-357-412 if you suspect a venue is not complying with the laws. WHAT STILL NEEDS FIXING
WORK SAFETY LAWS
workplace exposing people significantly to secondhand smoke is an unsafe
Tobacco smoke is a toxic, carcinogenic workplace contaminant. Working areas contaminated by tobacco smoke undermine Occupational Health and Safety laws and compromise the consistency and credibility of work safety authorities.
Report recommends tighter laws to make workplaces smokefree
2009: The National Preventative Health Taskforce reporting to the Australian Government on measures to prevent chronic disease has recommended tighter laws to make workplaces - indoor and out - smokefree. The report says smokefree working areas should include indoor and outdoor areas of hotels and restaurants, near building entrances, and work vehicles. It cites a damaging 2008 air quality survey of NSW licensed venues' smoking areas. See p. 183 of Preventative Health Taskforce report: tobacco chapter
told by NOHSC: get rid of smoky workplaces
2003: The National Occupational Health and Safety Commission advised all states and territories back in 2003 that smoky workplaces were unhealthy and inconsistent with OH&S laws. A guideline from the national body advised the states to ban indoor smoking from all workplaces - including pubs and clubs - immediately. This has been effectively ignored by most jurisdictions. See SmokeFree '03 release See LHMU release See the NOHSC Guidance Note 2003
territories undermine their own OH&S laws
A smoky workplace is unhealthy and unsafe. Some jurisdictions have allowed their own safe workplace laws to be undermined by inconsistent de facto exemptions allowing secondhand smoke in workplaces. See this 2002 roundup of Commonwealth, State and Territory laws setting out employers duty of care. See The Cancer Council NSW's recommendations for the workplace
Encouraging compliance with
See these tips for proprietors (from the US but equally relevant here).
DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION LAWS
Smoky public places discriminate both in employment and general access against people with disabilities including heart disease, emphysema, asthma, diabetes 2 and many other conditions - an estimated 10% of the public are in this category.
Sue Meeuwissen v Hilton
Hotels of Aust P/L
1997-2000: Landmark secondhand smoke disability discrimination case in Human Rights (and Equal Opportunity) Commission. Asthmatic Meeuwissen had to leave a nightclub because of her asthma attack caused by others’ smoking. The Commission found in her favour under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and awarded damages, Commissioner Graeme Innes likening the situation to someone in a wheelchair being barred by steps - “asking someone to tolerate exclusion, whether because of a step or something that they cannot breathe without risk of injury, is equally unacceptable and abhorrent.”
See HREOC decision 1997 More details in twitter/Dollars4deceit
Other secondhand smoke cases in Tobacco in Australia: facts and issues
The Disability Discrimination Act provides a legal option for people who have been discriminated against in employment or access by reason of disability. Inquiries and proceedings can be conducted under Part 4 of the Act through the Human Rights Commission.
Complaint forms can be
obtained and lodged with the Commission and determinations by the Commissioner usually
take around 6 months.
States and territories also have their own
discrimination laws - likely also to be in conflict with smoky venues.
Smoke-free policies can avoid legal actions, such as the successful action by a former bar attendant who was awarded $466,000 for passive smoking injury in a NSW hospitality workplace. More details.
Thailand: Widespread indoor and outdoor public places to be smokefree
2010: The Thai government has made educational centres, banks, religious places, sports complexes, offices, non air-conditioned eating places, outdoor public places including parks and hospitals completely smoke-free from June 2010. The measures were taken to fulfil Thailand's obligation to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) - under which member countries are required to create 100% smoke-free environments. Outdoor smoking zones are permitted on the grounds around public and private building as specified in the regulation, but not indoors. Action on Smoking and Health Foundation, Bangkok, Thailand
Worldwide trend to smokefree workplaces
As at January 2010, 29 countries had adopted and successfully implemented nationwide smokefree laws covering workplaces and public places, at least in totally enclosed areas - 16 of them specifically including bars and restaurants.
Worldwide summary - from Americans for Non-smokers' Rights. Doesn't include US states
US States smokefree workplace chart
Reuters list of world smokefree developments
Research studies from Scotland
US smokeferee casinos campaign - Americans for Non-smokers' Rights
The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a World Health Organization international tobacco control treaty ratified by Australia in 2004, commits parties to taking effective action to protect all people from secondhand smoke (SHS). Standards adopted by the treaty’s governing body make it clear that only 100% smoke-free laws that apply to all workplaces and public places meet the treaty’s requirements.
Our ratification commits us to recognising (Article 4.2(a), p. 4): "... the need to take measures to protect all persons from exposure to tobacco smoke"; and we agree (Article 8.2, p.6) to "...actively promote.... the adoption and implementation of effective legislative, executive, administrative and/or other measures, for protection from exposure to tobacco smoke in indoor workplaces.... and, as appropriate, other public places." See FCTC text
The WHO's (2007) policy
guidelines on Protection
from Exposure to Second-hand Tobacco Smoke outline effective
strategies to protect everyone from SHS.
WHO Guidelines on Protection from Exposure to Tobacco Smoke clarify our obligation under the FCTC. See (p. 4) the definitions of "public place", "indoor/enclosed" and "workplace". Current smoking areas allowed under most Australian state and territory laws don't satisfy these definitions, which make it clear: smoking should NOT be permitted in any roofed or otherwise partly-enclosed public places or in any working areas.
Australia and all its states and territories are
also signatories to the
International Labor Organisation convention no. 155 on Occupational Health and
Safety (1981) which obliges member states (Obligation 10) to
... formulate, implement and periodically review a coherent national policy on occupational safety and health in the working environment... to prevent accidents and injury to health by minimising so far as is reasonably practicable, the causes of hazards inherent in the workplace.
Total indoor smoke bans, as demonstrated by other countries (see above, WORLDWIDE TREND), are quite "reasonably practicable" - and any policy exempting tobacco smoke or leaving it complicated by elaborate exemptions cannot be called "coherent."
See List of Australian secondhand smoke legal cases (as at mid-2005)
See also Meeuwissen case above, under DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION LAWS
Smokefree prison rule upheld
2010: Canadian Federal Court of Appeal upholds directive by Correctional Services Authority prohibiting smoking both indoors and outdoors in federal prisons. A group of prisoners had successfully challenged the directive in the Federal Court, but the Court of Appeal upheld the smokefree policy. See decision and latest on Smokefree prisons
Australia: Calls for smokefree gambling
stepped up after casino cancer claim
2010: New calls for all gaming areas to be made 100% smokefree after cancer compensation claim from employee of Crown Casino Melbourne. Loopholes in smokefree laws allow smoking in enclosed, heavily staffed "high roller" / "premium" gaming rooms in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, WA and NT. 38-year-old non-smoking Crown staffer understood to be seriously ill with lung cancer - can be caused by secondhand smoke. Four other employees believed to have asked for transfers. See reports in Melbourne Age
pub gives Aussie barworker tongue cancer - how many more?
2005: A former Adelaide barworker wins a three-year legal battle for compensation after working in a smoky pub gave him tongue cancer. He pursued the action against a workplace insurer in the face of SA WorkCover opposition, after refusing a payout to buy his silence. He had part of his tongue removed, years of radiation therapy, speech therapy and more. His case highlights the urgency of closing loopholes and shortening deadlines. See SmokeFree Australia release 21/11/05 More in Nick Xenophon MP release 20/11/05 See What still needs fixing
Australia: Throat cancer payout to passive-smoked bar worker
2001: Sharp v Port Kembla RSL case ended in big compensation payout for throat cancer suffered by non-smoking bar worker. See summary and comment
First passive smoking damages award sounds
warning bells for employers
2004: Japan's first court award of damages for workplace passive smoking harm is part of a growing world trend towards legal action by employees against employers failing to keep workplaces smokefree. See Kyodo News report 12/7/04
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