New smoking rules to kick in for Victoria

25 July, 2017 by Andy Young

New rules regarding smoking in outdoor dining areas and the regulation of e-cigarettes and shisha tobacco will kick in soon for Victoria.

The Tobacco Amendment Act 2016 will amend the Tobacco Act 1987 to ban smoking in outdoor dining areas and regulate e-cigarettes and shisha tobacco in the same way as other tobacco products.

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Smoking will be banned in outdoor dining areas from 1 August, with that being defined as “an outdoor area that a business owner or manager permits to be used for the consumption of food provided on a commercial basis”.

Examples of outdoor dining areas include footpath dining, courtyards, balconies, and beer gardens that form part of, or are attached to, cafes, restaurants, take-away outlets, pubs, licensed premises and other similar businesses. For the purpose of the smoking ban, food does not include snacks and drinks.

Venues can have an outdoor drinking area, where smoking is permitted under certain conditions, but to minimise diners’ exposure to smoke-drift an outdoor drinking area must be separated from an outdoor dining area by either a four-metre buffer zone or a wall that is at least 2.1 metres high, which could be a plastic café blind.

Smoking in outdoor drinking areas is also banned if the area has a roof in place and the total area of wall surfaces exceeds 75 per cent of the total notional wall area.

Venues must display acceptable ‘No smoking’ signage to indicate smoke-free areas. The signs must be displayed so customers can see a sign when entering, or within, the outdoor drinking area. Signs can be ordered free of charge from the tobacco reforms website.

The new reforms will also regulate all e-cigarettes in the same way as tobacco products. This will mean that e-cigarettes cannot be used in areas where smoking is banned, cannot be displayed at retailer outlets, and cannot be sold to people under 18 years of age, as well as being subject to other restrictions.

Shisha tobacco, that contains any amount of tobacco, will also be treated the same as other tobacco products and so will also be banned from outdoor dining areas and all other places where smoking is banned. The reforms will also mean that businesses will need to ensure that shisha tobacco available for sale and any associated advertising must not be visible from anywhere inside or outside a shop. Shisha tobacco could be placed inside a cupboard or behind a counter similar to other tobacco products.

More information about the tobacco reforms in Victoria, how they impact businesses and factsheets on the changes are available from the Victorian Government’s tobacco reforms website.