LESS than a year after spending millions to upgrade their premises in line with smoking bans, Coffs Coast clubs are now in for an anxious wait to see how a landmark decision on outdoor smoking areas will affect them.
On Friday, Justice Peter McClellan decided in favour of NSW Health, who claimed the Dubbo RSL's 'enclosed area' contravened new smoking laws.
Justice McClellan ruled that if a smoking area was covered by a roof then the smoke could not disperse, which becomes 'the critical issue affecting the healthiness of the premises'. It means pubs and clubs may face hefty bills to redesign outdoor smoking areas at a time when club revenue has been hit hard by the smoking ban.
The Coffs Harbour Catholic Club has 28 poker machines in a roofed outdoor smoking area specially built for the smoking ban, and the irony is the area was purposely built to offset the $400,000 loss in pokie revenue the club attributes to the smoking ban.
Chief Executive Officer, Michael Hawkins, said the club's smoking area is affected by the ruling but at this stage couldn't comment further.
ClubsNSW Chief Executive Officer, David Costello, said the industry has spent more than $450 million.
“Clubs who wish to give their patrons an area where it is legal to smoke, in many cases, have built partially covered outdoor areas in order to provide some protection from the elements,” he said.