Queensland is playing "catch-up" with the other states in anti-smoking legislation, according to Queensland Health, with the state becoming the second last to introduce no smoking in public enclosed places in the country.
Speaking at a Property Council workshop late last month, Mark West, principal policy advisor for Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Services for Queensland Health, said that new passive smoking legislation would be introduced on May 31, 2002, to coincide with World No Tobacco Day.
The new legislation was endorsed by Cabinet in October last year, as part of a four-year strategic plan, and Mark said the new legislation aimed to "improve the health of all Queenslanders by eliminating or reducing their exposure to tobacco in all its forms".
Places that will be affected by the new legislation include shopping centres, offices, and liquor licensed places, such as hotels, restaurants, some cafes, pubs and nightclubs - generally anywhere, Mark said, that offers menus and cutlery.
Mark also said that the new legislation, which is an amendment to the current no-smoking legislation in place for the past 11 years, focuses on the restrictions of public smoking in "enclosed places".
Under the legislation, "enclosed places" are defined as "having a ceiling or roof and, except for doors and passageways, is completely or substantially enclosed, whether permanently or temporarily".
The legislation is the result of two rounds of state-wide consultation which took place in 1999 and 2000, and involved more than 180 stakeholders, including the Property Council, the Retailers Association of Queensland, the Queensland Hotels Association, Jupiters and Treasury Casinos, as well as tobacco companies.
"Reducing passive smoking will happen," Mark said. "To make it happen we are introducing this new legislation."
The new legislation provides for a general ban on indoor smoking, with hefty fines for both the smoker and the owner/operator of the premises. Both parties will be slapped with a $1,500 fine, however the owner/operator does have a defence if they were not aware the person was smoking or if they directed the person to stop smoking and told the person it was an offence.
Conrad International Treasury Casino and the Gold Coast's Conrad Jupiters have already put no-smoking bans in place, with smoke-free areas in all restaurants, gaming tables and at some gaming machines.
Mark added that Jupiters Casino had also implemented a totally smoke-free bar.
"Smoke-free dining is here to stay," he said.
"There are 1.8 million non-smokers in Queensland, and it will be the non-smokers that police the legislation.
"We need penalties in place and we need deterrents. We are getting there. Some might say they are big steps, and some might say they are small steps.
"Our message to managers or owners is this: Tell your staff about this legislation. Tell people not to smoke. Once they do this then we'll be pretty happy."