October 22, 2010 - Western Australia (WA) tough anti-smoking laws are failing to be enforced by councils (local government associations) amid growing concerns about the cost and drain on resources.
We have a tremendous amount respect for the Government of Western Australia for putting in place strong tobacco control measures to protect the health of their citizens, especially their children. Besides educating people on the importance of the new measures a procedure must be in place for enforcement. (Congratulations Western Australia (WA) - September 22, 2010 stricter anti-smoking laws in effect..)
Background: Laws passed by the state government last year, which come into effect on September 22, 2010 have tightened restrictions in WA. Bans include: tobacco product displays in retail premises (with exemption for specialist tobacco retailers); smoking in outdoor eating areas (with some exemptions; smoking in cars with children under 17 years present; smoking near children's playground equipment; smoking between the flags at the beach; forcing staff to work in designated smoking areas.Under the rules, which came into force a month ago today, councils are responsible for enforcing the ban on smoking in restaurant and cafe alfresco areas, near playground equipment and between the flags at beaches. The ban on smoking in cars carrying children under 17 is monitored only by police, who pass on details of offenders to the Health Department to determine and issue penalties.
Western Australia - strict anti-smoking laws come into effect on September, 22, 2010..
This week, the City of Melville (Local Government Area in the southern suburbs of the Western Australian capital city of Perth) joined a growing chorus of councils highlighting the impost [imposted as a result of] of the laws on resources, with councillors voting to write to local MPs (members of parliament) highlighting the cost implications and lobbying for any funding it deemed necessary.
The council, in the Alfred Cove electorate of MP Janet Woollard, who fashioned the laws, has said that depending on the level of compliance, it might have to spend $100,000 a year on an extra ranger and car. New signs at its 139 playgrounds would cost an estimated $30,000. The council has not fined anyone since the laws came into effect. It relies on voluntary compliance but will respond to complaints.
A survey of Stirling, Wanneroo, Joondalup, Swan, Rockingham and Fremantle councils also found none had issued fines. "While the new bans make sense from a health perspective, the city does not have the capacity to employ additional staff for the sole purpose of patrolling and enforcing the new smoking laws," Fremantle health and building services co-ordinator Matthew Piggott said.
A Health Department spokeswoman said it would provide advice and help to councils on a case-by-case basis. She said the laws were an extension of long-standing smoking restrictions, which have required minimal council resources to ensure compliance.
Dr Woollard said enforcement was always intended to be through self-regulation and education and she believed councils could enforce the laws using existing resources. Shadow health minister Roger Cook said the lack of preparation was now showing in the councils' sentiment and funding calls should be met.
Reference: Smoking ban 'too costly' for council, BEATRICE THOMAS, thewest.com.au, 10/22/2010.
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