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Smoko time? Not for 18 years


Peter Jean

Karuna Henderson and Matthew Willis, both 17, enjoy the smoke-free atmosphere at Hudson's cafe, Dickson.

Karuna Henderson and Matthew Willis, both 17, enjoy the smoke-free atmosphere at Hudson's cafe, Dickson. Photo: Melissa Adams

Critics said anti-smoking laws would send eateries and bars broke, but business was booming at smoke-free tables at Dickson cafes when Karuna Henderson and Matthew Willis enjoyed lunch recently.

The 17-year-olds are among the first generation of Canberrans who have barely been exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke, thanks to a crackdown that began 18 years ago with an Australia-first ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces.

The restrictions have since been extended to include outdoor eating and drinking places.

Karuna, whose mother Terri Henderson is a member of the lobby group Canberra ASH (Action on Smoking and Health), says that while some of her friends smoke, seeing graphic anti-tobacco material around the home has ensured she will never take up the habit.

'I've never lived in an environment with family smoking, I've never experimented with it," she says.

The Smoke-Free Areas (Enclosed Public Spaces) Act, which came into force on December 6 1994, prohibited smoking in areas such as shopping centres, theatres and hotels.

Some exemptions were initially included for premises with liquor and or gaming licences and for smoking by performers on stage during theatre productions.

Restaurants had to ensure at least 50 per cent of their seating was smoke-free.

Terri Henderson says it seems almost unbelievable, 18 years on, that people once smoked inside supermarkets.

"I can't think of a single person who would ever think you should be able to smoke in a shopping centre now," she says.

Smoking was banned inside public service offices in 1987.

Canberra ASH president and Dickson GP Alan Shroot says that every day he sees the health benefits in patients of the gradual decline in smoking rates and passive smoking.

"All of the youngsters who used to come in would be smokers – you could smell the tobacco on them," he says. "People are living longer. I suspect – although I haven't done a study to prove it – there's less respiratory trouble."

Canberra ASH wants further restrictions, including at outdoor events and festivals during the Centenary of Canberra.

It also wants pedestrian areas in town centres progressively made smoke-free, smoking restrictions on the Canberra Hospital campus enforced and greater assistance for people to quit smoking.

Chief Minister and Health Health Minister Katy Gallagher has promised to pursue smoking restrictions in a range of public places including swimming pools and playgrounds, sporting events where children are present, covered bus interchanges and large events.


  • Ban smoking within 20metres of the door of places of work where you are employed UNLESS it is on company premises and not in a public place Get rid of the crowds of smokers cluttering up the footpath outside many buildings It will also reduce the take up of smoking as a way to a smoke break

    Date and time
    December 03, 2012, 9:34AM
    • Let non smokers leave work an hour earlier then their smoking peers. The amount of wasted time due to smoke breaks is appalling.

      Date and time
      December 03, 2012, 9:47AM
      • Why doesn't HealthACT embark on setting up a Facebook page showing smokers smoking in public places. If people could see themselves smoking and see how dirty they look people in turn would take a look at themselves and hopefully quit. Also people who drive and butt out the window should be fined heavily as it is not only foul it is also a fire risk.

        Not a greenie
        Red Hill
        Date and time
        December 03, 2012, 9:53AM
        • I think smoking should be re-introduced to cafes and clubs. Its not illegal so if you dont like it go somewhere else. Its a free country, not China.

          Date and time
          December 03, 2012, 11:21AM
          • It's not illegal to break wind in public either, but just like cigarette smoke, the odour is disgusting.

            Date and time
            December 03, 2012, 2:23PM
          • Driving a car is legal too, why can't I drive my car inside a cafe? FREEEEEEDOM!!!!!

            Stir the pot
            Date and time
            December 03, 2012, 2:55PM
          • Have a go,matey. But be careful you don't get laughed out of town.
            Best smoking room? Dubai airport...a 3m x 5m enclosed room without exhaust fan with up to 20 blokes chooffing away.

            Date and time
            December 03, 2012, 5:46PM
        • Melbournites rave about how the cafe culture is better down there - it may be true for the coffee but I have to say I much prefer the smoke free environment we get to enjoy in canberra!

          Date and time
          December 03, 2012, 11:46AM
          • Every cafe in Melbourne has a smoke free environment too. It's inside.
            If you want a smoke free environment you should probably not sit in the smoking area.

            Date and time
            December 03, 2012, 1:53PM
        • Isn't about time that we realise smoking does nothing for us except slowly kill us? Get rid of cigerettes once and for all!

          Date and time
          December 03, 2012, 5:55PM

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