MPs cautious on smoking ban
A NEW survey claiming almost two-thirds of respondents want smoking banned in clubs and pubs has been met with caution by NSW politicians.
The survey, published today in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, found 67 per cent of the 723 NSW residents surveyed wanted pubs and clubs to be smoke free.
Smoking is already banned at the bar in pubs and clubs, and the Australian Hotels Association said most venues offered non-smoking areas for patrons.
A spokeswoman for NSW Health Minister Morris Iemma said the Government was already conscious of the health impacts on employees working in smoky bars and clubs.
"The Government is committed to working with the pubs and clubs industry to progress reforms in the workplace for the safety and comfort of clubs and pubs employees and patrons," she said, declining to comment further on the study.
Opposition leader John Brogden said he was happy to look at the survey, but more discussion with the industry and community was required before a ban could be implemented.
"I'm not a smoker and I don't like smoking, but equally I don't believe that somebody's enjoyment having a beer at a pub should be restricted because I don't like smoking," Mr Brogden told reporters.
"I don't think we're ready to move that way quite yet."
AHA NSW president John Thorpe dismissed the survey, saying it had a very small sample size and warned that a total smoking ban in pubs or clubs would damage business.
"I've been to the areas in California, (and) the devastation, the loss of jobs - the industry is not doing well at all," Mr Thorpe said.
"If you attend any bars over there ... the people were smoking outside the bars and there was no one inside."
Australian Democrat Senator Lyn Allison rejected claims that a smoking ban would have a negative impact on business.
"The AHA should admit that they are actually defending gambling profits and they are not the only ones," she said.
"State governments, despite agreeing last year that all workplaces should be smoke free, are wavering because they too are dependent on the pokie dollar."
Senator Allison said New Zealand, Norway, Ireland, the Philippines and five US states including New York would have banned smoking in all workplaces by 2004.
NSW Cancer Council chief executive Andrew Penman said international smoking bans had wide community support.
"You can't smoke in bars and clubs in New York and everyone is very happy, it has a high level of public support," he said.