NSW Health is yet to decide who will enforce tougher smoking bans starting this week, meaning smokers will be able to continue to light up without receiving a fine.
The new legislation means children’s playgrounds, public transport stops and stations, sporting fields, public swimming pool complexes and entrances from a public building including shopping centres all become smoke-free zones.
The new laws were passed through Parliament in August and came into effect on Monday to be enforced by NSW Health Inspectors and Environmental Health Officers.
Threats of fines as high as $550 were expected to act as a dampener for smokers, but Western Local Health District (LHD) acting population health director Lyndal O’Leary confirmed there were no plans to start fining smokers.
Instead the new laws would initially only be used to educate and inform the public of the dangers of second hand smoke.
“There is no funding attached to this legislation so there are no special positions,” she said.
“There is already an Environmental Health Officer [in the Western LHD] and they’ve had education of the implications for them, but at this stage no decision has been made about whether they are the people who enforce it in the future.
“It’s about trying to de-normalise smoking and trying to discourage young people from taking it up.”
Ms O’Leary says the laws may be used by NSW Health staff to ask smokers to move on from non-smoking areas or put their cigarettes out.
She is confident most smokers will follow the laws, despite fines not being issued.
“Most people generally are quite good,” she said.
“Once it’s explained to them they really are quite conducive to moving on or putting out their cigarette.”
Cancer Council community programs coordinator Jocie Johnston agreed and said the laws would change social behaviour, but she felt the laws should be enforced with fines.
“Everyone has the right to fresh air and being protected from tobacco smoke,” she said.
Orange City Council was one of the first councils to introduce tougher smoking laws in 2010.
Development services director David Waddell said the council would work with NSW Health to look at resources to enforce the new law, but generally relied on an honesty system from smokers.