Earlier this week new non-smoking regulations were phased in at all clubs and pubs in NSW, restricting smoking to 50 percent of their floor area. The regulations are the first phase of the NSW government’s Smoke-Free Environment Amendment Bill 2004, with further restrictions over the next two years. From July 2006, the area allocated for smoking will shrink to 25 per cent and in July 2007, no smoking will be allowed inside club premises at all.

Although the laws were only introduced this week most punters will not notice a great deal of difference as many clubs and hotels have moved ahead of requirements and in many cases comply with regulations that are due to come into effect in July 2006. Those people who do smoke in a non-smoking area will face a fine of $550.

Just before the Olympics, Bob Carr banned smoking in all restaurants. At that time there was a great noise made about how this could potentially destroy businesses. Three surveys conducted since that time have since confirmed what anyone can see for themselves -“ restaurants are booming and the argument that removing smoking from bars would damage business is flawed.

Smoking is currently banned in bars in New York, California, Ireland, New Zealand and Norway. Last year new legislation was introduced in the Irish Republic. Those laws have made smoking illegal in pubs, restaurants and other enclosed workplaces across Ireland, with offenders now facing substantial fines. Although there was great concern about what the new laws would do to the pub culture and resulting business, the laws appeared to cause very little disruption and life has gone on as usual. In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that far from putting people off attending venues, smoke-free pubs and bars have attracted a whole new clientele.

In Australia we have over 19,000 tobacco-related deaths per year; that is over 80 percent of all drug-related deaths. Just to give you an idea of how much passive smoking can affect you: being in a room in which there are smokers means being exposed to at least 50 agents known to cause cancer and other chemicals that increase blood pressure, damage the lungs and cause abnormal kidney function.

One of the great problems with non-smoking venues is how to actually enforce the rule. The legislation has been introduced to protect hospitality industry workers but some believe that it will only add to their workload by forcing them to act as prison guards attempting to enforce the no-smoking policy. For non-smokers the day when smoking is banned completely in our clubs and bars has been a long time coming. The move this week was just the beginning and we don’t have too much longer to wait until the day of no smoking at all in our pubs and clubs.

Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug and, no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blas?/p>

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