Smokers and boozers in firing line

Diners will be banned from smoking in outdoor dining areas located on public footpaths under a proposal backed by Tumut Shire Council on Tuesday.

The ban, which would affect diners at such establishments as the Woolpack Hotel, Oriental Hotel, Pie in the Sky, the Heritage Cafe and Kat’s Whiskers cafe, was put to the council by Cr Peter Cross and enthusiastically endorsed by most of his fellow councillors, although Cr Scott Stevenson expressed his reservations.

The proposal still has to go out for public comment and ratification by the council, but if successful will bring forward a ban that will in any case be implemented by the State Government in 2015.

It won’t just affect diners: any public area within four metres of a pedestrian access point to a licensed premises or restaurant will be a smoke-free zone under the council plan.

Cr Cross said many other councils had introduced smoking bans, including Wagga, which has had a smoke-free policy in all outdoor eating areas since 2009.

From January 7, the State Government banned smoking within four metres of a pedestrian entrance or exit from all residential premises, but the ban has been deferred for licensed premises and restaurants until July 6, 2015.

Cr Cross couldn’t see the reason for the delay.

“It seems an inordinate length of time to allow the community to adapt to the ban,” Cr Cross said.

“I’ve received complaints from shops near licensed premises who say smoke is wafting into their store from diners smoking outside the pub.

“As a reformed smoker, I find it disgusting that if I want to eat outdoors, I have to put up with someone else’s smoke.

Cr Geoff Pritchard was supportive, saying bans should have been introduced “years ago”.

“We’ve known smoking causes lung cancer and vascular disease for some 50 years but still haven’t addressed the problem,” Cr Pritchard said.

“This is a small step in the right direction.”

But Cr Stevenson was concerned about the impact the ban would have on the businesses, and Cr Margaret Isselmann questioned if smokers wouldn’t simply move “further along the street” to light up.

The ban won’t affect designated smoking areas set up by clubs and pubs on private land.

Meanwhile, the council also finalised a number of alcohol free zones throughout the Shire.

The council will spend some $10,000 on signage advising the public of the various alcohol free zones, which include the Tumut CBD area, along Wynyard and Russell Streets and Elm Drive, from the racing stables to the Tumut showgrounds parking area.

Another new alcohol free area is the children’s playground at the top of the Bull Paddock, along with the car park and skate park.

Little River Bridge also remains an alcohol free area, although it will be slightly altered once the new bridge is built.

The Batlow town centre (Selwyn Street, Pioneer Street and Tumbarumba Road), the Batlow Weemala Lookout, and main street area of Adelong (Tumut Street, between Campbell and Travers; and Campbell, between Tumut and Lockhart Streets) are also designated alcohol free areas.

Victoria Hill Road, Adelong, has been removed as an alcohol free zone, but the car park next ot Herb Faint Bridge remains.

The possession of consumption of alcohol in those areas is prohibited.