Snubbed out

Cigar club rejected over health concerns

VINCENT councillors have unanimously snubbed out a proposal for a private cigar club in Highgate.

In the lead up to Tuesday night’s vote at council, the WA Australian Medical Association voiced concerns about the exclusive club: “We are trying to make smoking history, not to make smoking and the sale of tobacco products exclusive or fashionable,” WA AMA president Omar Khorshid told the Voice.

Cigar Social – the brainchild of entrepreneur Nick Russell – was proposed for 73/288 Lord Street, Highgate, in the same building as apartments, cafes and offices.

The club would have been open seven days a week from 10am-12pm Mon-Sat, and 10am-5pm on Sundays.

Entrepreneurs and senior executives would have paid $1,000 a year in membership fees to puff a Montecristo alongside other business leaders.

Thirteen of the 17 submissions received by council during community consultation opposed Cigar Social, with nearby residents concerned about health impacts, the smell of smoke, hours of operation and parking issues.

“Smoking is an inappropriate activity in any circumstance particularly in a mixed residential commercial area where young children may be residing,” stated one objection.

But the applicant, First One Developments, said they “completely understand smoking should not be in areas where the public can be exposed to smoke” and would purify the air before it was vented out of the roof, even though current health regulations don’t require them to.

But at the council meeting, Cr Jonathan Hallet said it’s not possible to filter all the ultra fine particles from smoke and there would still be some health risk posed by the vented air.

“It is my opinion that this application poses a health risk to neighbouring residents, not to mention those who use the establishment,” he said.

Acting mayor Susan Gontaszewski explained the crux of the council’s vote against the club: “The development didn’t provide enough activation at street level… and also there was the potential amenity impact resulting from the discharge of tobacco smoke.”

Cancer Council WA also raised concerns.

Their cancer prevention and research director Melissa Ledger said “the concept of an indoor smoking lounge is outdated and has no place in WA.

“Smoking has been banned in all enclosed public places in WA since 2006. The application for a cigar lounge exploits a legal loophole and is against the spirit of the legislation. Approval would set a dangerous precedent.

“Cigar smoke is just as toxic and carcinogenic as cigarette smoke.

“A person who smokes cigars is at higher risk of many cancers, including oral, oesophageal and lung.

“They also increase their risk of coronary heart disease and aortic aneurysm.

“High passive exposure to cigar smoke is also harmful to health.

“Staff at this venue would be unfairly exposed to second-hand smoke, when all other indoor workplaces in WA are rightfully smoke-free.

The applicant responded to similar concerns in the application, pointing out that alcohol had health risks, but the council had no problem in approving bars across Vincent: “Bars promote the use of alcohol that is shown to have health risks, and studies have shown that it has the world’s largest negative impact on communities.”

by MOLLY SCHMIDT

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