OUR SAY: Smoking ban requires real legal will power to be enforced

TIGHTENING up the rules on smoking in the public spaces of Orange has been on the agenda for several years but a move to include several blocks of Summer Street would require a significant new commitment from council.

The city already has a ban on smoking near the entrance to shopping centres and was in the vanguard of introducing bans at sporting facilities such as the aquatic centre and playgrounds.

It also supports new state laws which ban smoking near where food is being prepared or served, even where diners are eating outside and these measures too are generally supported.

However, if a council ban on smoking on Summer Street in the heart of the CBD is to be taken seriously, it must be accompanied by the resources to enforce the ban.

Cr Reg Kidd has proposed the ban as much to address anti-social behaviour as the health issues of the habit and this is why enforcement will be a much bigger issue.

In restaurants and pubs the weight of government regulations and fear of the repercussions of breaching those regulations ensures proprietors play by the rules.

Within the confines of the aquatic centre it is also comparatively easy for council staff to enforce the rules. Apart from pressure from other patrons fear of the being ejected from the venue or facing criminal charges for not following the directions of authorised staff gives the rules teeth.

It is a different matter however if council sets out to stamp out smoking in areas like on the steps of the post office or around Post Office Lane.

While many residents, smokers included, would welcome seeing that area cleaned up, putting up a sign is not going to deter the problem element Cr Kidd and some in the business community have in their sights.

Without a sound legal basis and police or rangers to back up the regulations, a smoking ban in Summer Street would be a toothless tiger. A law ignored in one place is a law weakened everywhere.


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