Breathe easy – time to butt out on Bourke St

From next month, everyone can breathe easier in Bourke Street Mall when it becomes Melbourne’s highest profile outdoor smoke-free area.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the new smoke-free area on Bourke Street, between Elizabeth Street and Russell Place, was part of the City of Melbourne’s commitment to protect people from passive smoking.

“We’re creating a welcoming, safe and healthy environment for the 60,000 visitors, residents and workers who enjoy the shopping and fantastic atmosphere of Bourke Street Mall every day,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Smoking takes a terrible toll on our community; it costs lives, damages health and affects the wellbeing of thousands of people.

“Every year, about 4000 Victorians die from smoking-related illnesses, and our economy loses more than $2 billion through healthcare costs and lost productivity. That’s why we’re working to protecting our community from the harm caused by smoking, while also creating a more welcoming atmosphere in the heart of our city.”

The smoke free area will come into effect from Friday 4 October 2019.

Chair of the People City portfolio, Councillor Beverley Pinder, said the move followed extensive consultation with more than 3000 people and 160 businesses which showed 83 per cent supported Bourke Street becoming smoke-free.

“Melburnians overwhelmingly support the proposed smoke-free zone and recognise that clearing the air makes Bourke Street a happier, healthier space for us all to enjoy,” Cr Pinder said.

“Banning smoking is good for everyone – including smokers. Our research showed that not only were the majority of smokers open to the ban, but two out of five smokers told us the smoke-free area would encourage them to quit.

“We want to promote health and wellbeing for everyone in our community, including smokers, and we’re working with stakeholders including Quit Victoria to provide information and support to anyone considering quitting or cutting back.

“The City of Melbourne has also engaged with universities whose students use the area and will continue discussions aimed at supporting students to make healthy choices while ensuring they understand their options.”

As well as the planned Bourke Street area, there are 10 other designated smoke-free areas within the municipality, including Goldsbrough Lane, QV Melbourne, The Causeway, Howey Place, Equitable Place, Block Place, The Tan running track, Princes park running track, Collins Way and Fulham Place.

Smoking is also banned in outdoor dining areas under State Government laws introduced in August 2017.

The fine for smoking in a smoke-free area is $100. People found littering cigarette butts anywhere in the city face heavier fines: $330 for an unlit butt and $660 for a lit butt.

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