February 23, 2011 - Councils that have introduced strict smoke-free areas -- shopping strips, beaches and playgrounds -- all admit no one has yet been fined, despite scores of smokers having been caught by their officers.
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Frankston City Council in Victoria's Port Phillip Bay caused fierce debate in November by declaring parts of its Central Business District (CBD) smoke-free. (FRANKSTON’S trial outdoor smoking ban in busy shopping strips started November 8, 2010. Lighting up in the designated areas during the six-month trial will result in a $110 fine.). The council warned of fines of up to $2000. But in three months, none has been imposed. It is believed dozens of smokers are caught in Frankston's Shannon Mall every day. Mayor Kris Bolam said it was "fantastic" that no fines had been issued. "I think people have embraced the changes," he said. "I think (the trial) has been a success and there hasn't been a need to fine anyone."
Two other Melbourne councils that imposed bans - Port Phillip Council and Monash City Council - are also yet to issue a fine. Port Phillip mayor Rachel Powning said the council had not fined smokers for lighting up on beaches because the bans were in an "educational phase". The City of Monash's smoking ban, due to take effect on October 1, is believed to be the most far-reaching of any Victorian municipality.
Smokers seen flouting Frankston's laws yesterday - some just metres from signs warning of $2000 fines - said they were not worried about being caught. "No, I'm not worried. And I wouldn't pay the fine, either," Steph Koulaginis said. Ricky Starr said the council should accept that "nearly everyone smokes". "I'm glad they're not fining anyone. You should be able to smoke outside," he said.
Quit executive director Fiona Sharkie said Frankston had been brave to ban smoking. But she said there needed to be changes if it was true that some smokers were receiving numerous warnings. "If a person has been warned 15 times, then that is 13 times too many," she said. "(But) we have to remember that Frankston is the first to do this, so this has been a big trial and they need time to get it right," she said.
Reference: Councils hold fire on smoking fines SMOKE police have yet to hand out a single fine., Paul Tatnell, DailyTelegraph.com.au, 2/12/2011.