SMOKING will be banned entirely on Canberra Hospital grounds from September, as the ACT government continues moves to wipe out cigarette use.
The withdrawal of even designated smoking areas comes as strategies for preventing smokers from lighting up at playgrounds and children's sports venues continue to take shape.
Smoking restrictions have applied at Canberra Hospital and in other ACT Health facilities since 2008. Now the ''completely smoke-free facilities'' flagged in last year's tobacco reduction directions paper are being realised at Canberra Hospital with the establishment of a firm date.
Patients and staff are already forbidden from lighting up in any ACT Health building, grounds or car parks, and cigarettes are not sold on premises.
Last week Victoria joined Queensland and Western Australia in banning smoking within 10 metres of children's playground equipment. It also banned smoking at children's sports venues.
Health Minister Katy Gallagher said a decision was yet to be made on whether the cessation of smoking at outdoor public pools, sporting fields and playgrounds would involve legal changes or simply education.
''An assessment is being undertaken on the option that would best achieve the government's objective,'' Ms Gallagher said. ''ACT Health is unable to advise the changes that are likely this year.
''There is work being undertaken and consultation will occur on options for outdoor areas.''
The ACT's chief health officer, Dr Paul Kelly, welcomed the move towards wider bans last year, saying an end to smoking in playgrounds would prevent second-hand smoke inhalation and send a message that smoking was not socially acceptable.
Ms Gallagher said the Canberra Hospital reforms would include measures to ensure smokers in contact with health services were encouraged to manage their nicotine cravings and, if willing, supported in their efforts to quit.
NSW Council of Civil Liberties president Steven Blanks said he had no problem with laws heavily restricting the locations in which the otherwise legal activity could occur.
''My thought is that laws of those kinds don't raise any civil liberty issue. It is properly left to the democratic system - the majority can decide,'' Mr Blanks said.
New research published in The Lancet medical journal last week found legislation banning smoking at worksites and public places was associated with substantial reductions in preterm births and hospital attendances for asthma.