Rusty Steele enjoys a cigarette inside a pub while he still can, pictured with Gareth Owen and Sandy Nunn.
Rusty Steele enjoys a cigarette inside a pub while he still can, pictured with Gareth Owen and Sandy Nunn.

Smoking ban imminent

By MEL MARTIN

AS Rusty Steele celebrated St Patrick's Day at the Coffs Hotel yesterday, he was able to light up a ciggie to go with his Guinness.

But in Ireland, celebrations in pubs and clubs were smoke-free ? as will be the case in New South Wales in the near future.

A smoking ban in NSW pubs and clubs will be phased in from July 1 this year with a complete ban from July 1, 2007.

That's not worrying Mr Steele, though.

"I'm used to people telling me to go outside to smoke," he laughed.

But club managers are not convinced he's in the majority and are concerned the ban will incur serious losses for clubs.

This week, Stan Brecko from ClubsNSW, came to Coffs Harbour to discuss with regional clubs the impact of the impending ban.

"The smoking ban is a major issue of concern, particularly with the tax increases on revenue from poker machines," Mr Brecko said.

"But it's not going to be reversed, so we're looking at how to provide for smokers. We're working on clarifying what the definition of an allowable outdoor area is, so that it doesn't disadvantage any clubs, including those that are landlocked by other buildings."

He added that in Victoria, clubs experienced a 15 per cent drop in attendance when smoking was banned.

But a spokesperson for the NSW Minister for Science and Medical Research, Frank Sartor, said that overseas figures show that this is not the case and that the decision to ban smoking in pubs and clubs was based on sound research.

In Ireland, research conducted by the Office of Tobacco Control after the introduction of a ban on smoking in pubs and clubs found that the number of non-smokers visiting pubs and clubs had increased slightly, while the number of smokers visiting remained the same.

Coffs Ex-Services Club president, David Doyle, acknowledges changes are going to happen, but would have preferred dedicated smoking and gaming areas in clubs.

"It's the way the world is going. Smoking bans are everywhere and we have to accept that fact, but we still have to accommodate smokers."

The Cancer Council of NSW, on the other hand, welcomes the ban, although would have hoped for an earlier deadline.

Regional program co-ordinator of the Mid North Coast office of The Cancer Council, Patty Delaney, supports a complete ban on smoking in pubs and clubs.

"The Cancer Council wants pubs and clubs to go completely smoke-free. Nicotine is a carcinogenic substance and we believe staff and members of clubs should be protected from its effects," she said.

"More than 70 per cent of the population are non-smokers and they should be free to breathe fresh air.

"The sad thing is that the lung cancer survival rate is not as good as for other cancers. If you look at a five-year time-span, only 9 to 13 per cent of people with lung cancer survive," Patty said.

Tobacco is the most preventable cause of death in the western world, but each year, it kills 19,000 Australians, and 3.5 million people worldwide.

According to The Cancer Council, passive smoking kills more than 220 Australians each year, and ventilation does not fix the problem.

Smoking and second-hand smoke increase the risk of lung cancer, cardio-vascular disease, emphysema, stroke, respiratory illnesses, and asthma symptoms.

Other cancers attributed to smoking include cancers of the lip, oral and nasal cavities, oesophagus, pharynx, larynx, pancreas and bladder.

Yet, around 70,000 Australian teenagers start smoking each year.

In NSW, there are 85,000 children aged from 12 to 17 years who are regular smokers.



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