THE WA Cancer Council has backed a ban on smoking in Vincent’s town centres, but the state government has flagged concerns about being cut out of the decision.
Vincent council’s currently lining up a new local law that will give it discretion to ban smoking in town centres, in thoroughfares near facilities for young people, and in ovals or natural areas it controls.
The rules are an effort to reduce bystander exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, and smoking or vaping in one of those zones will attract a $100 fine, while failure to extinguish when directed by an “authorised person” like a ranger is a $200 fine.
The proposal’s just finished its first round of advertising for comment and received no objections, and a joint letter from the Cancer Council and the Australian Council on Smoking and Health has praised the plan.
The letter called the smoke free town centre concept “a sector leading and progressive initiative” and noted community engagement and a clear infringement process will be key to making it work.
Councillors vote on November 16 whether to push ahead with the plan, which will still need state government approval.
The sticking point is that unlike Perth council’s mall ban, Vincent’s policy gives it power to keep declaring its properties smoke-free ad infinitum – provided there’s a community consultation process to weigh up pros and cons.
The department of local government has notified Vincent that state parliament might not approve such powers in perpetuity, as “the power could potentially be used to ban smoking in all thoroughfares, either in one resolution or gradually” and raising concern that once approved the power “would not be subject to parliamentary scrutiny or disallowance, meaning the parliament can’t block a determination if they believe it is inappropriate”.
The department says the rule “raises the question of what level of restrictions local government can impose” and “the state parliament may wish to disallow the local law if they believe that public smoking in thoroughfares is an issue to be reserved for state legislation”.
Mayor Emma Cole says the council’s had the policy reviewed by a legal firm and is confident it’ll be approved because there are still restrictions on where smoke-free zones can apply, and she added health minister Rodger Cooke spoke positively about the plan when it was first announced.