Canberra Public transport waiting areas prepare to become smoke-free

Canberra Times, Katie Burgess 

Canberra smokers will have 3000 fewer places to light up in come October 1. Smoking will be banned from public transport waiting areas, including bus stops, taxi shelters, train stations and (when they’re built) light rail stops.

The government is also considering extending the ban further, to other areas where ‘‘children and young people gather’’. Under the new rules, those who light up within five metres of public or privately-owned public transport waiting areas could be fined up to $750.

However, areas on private land that fall within five metres of a bus stop are not covered by the ban. Cars driving within five metres of a
bus stop would not be covered by the ban either. ‘‘Vaping’’ – using e-cigarettes – at bus stops would also be banned under the changes.

More than 93 per cent of people who participated in a government survey on the ‘‘Your Say’’ website over three months supported smoke-free stops and stations.

Last year, smoking within 10 metres of a playground was also outlawed although no one in the ACT had been fined for breaching  the rules as of April. Legislation introduced into the ACT’s parliament last year made it easier for the minister to ban smoking in areas around the city.

Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris said that more potential smokefree areas had been identified through the public consultation.

‘‘Again we are looking at places where the public gather, particularly places where children and young people gather as well but it’s really important we do what we can to encourage people who are already smoking to give up,’’ Ms Fitzharris said.

‘‘Evidence shows that smokefree outdoor areas can reduce the exposure of children and young people to the role modelling of smoking and so help prevent smoking uptake.

‘‘This also supports the ACT government’s efforts to encourage public transport usage but ensuring Canberrans can breathe easy around our over 3000 public transport waiting areas.’’