Smoking in Outdoor Dining Areas Has Been Banned in Victoria

Stubbing out is now on the menu at restaurants, cafes and licensed premises, as well as food festivals.
Sarah Ward
August 01, 2017

If simultaneously puffing and munching away is your idea of a meal, we have some bad news for you. Falling into line with neighbouring Australian states, Victoria has enacted new anti-tobacco legislation that bans cigarette smoking in all outdoor dining areas and some outdoor drinking areas.

Announced in 2015, but only coming into effect on August 1, smoking is now prohibited in all outside spaces where food is available for consumption — and the list of spots impacted is hefty. Stubbing out is now on the menu at restaurants, cafes, take away shops and licensed premises, and spans both courtyard dining areas and footpath dining. The new laws also apply to food fairs and festivals, street and community events, and other organised outdoor gatherings where food is on offer.

In addition, the legislation places restrictions on outdoor drinking areas too. Puffing away with a pint outside is now banned if the space is within four metres of an outdoor dining area — whether at the same venue or a neighbouring one. There's also a stipulation about actual versus notional wall surface area. Given that no one wants to be doing maths while they're enjoying a drink, checking each venue's rules is going to become a regular part of every smoker's routine.

If you're wondering what separates a dining area from a drinking area, the former involves food that requires preparation prior to serving, while the latter is primarily for knocking back tipples — though pre-packaged nibbles such as nuts, chocolates and packets of potato chips are allowed, but not sandwiches, hot chips or anything more substantial. There are exceptions to the new legislation, however, including venues that boast at least four metres of space to separate diners and smokers, and places that install 2.1-metre-high cafe blinds to do the same.

Individuals caught breaching the new laws will face a fine of five penalty units, or $792.85 for the 2017-18 financial year — and venue fines are heftier. To put the long-awaited changes in national context, New South Wales made the same move in July 2015, while Queensland did so back in 2006.

Published on August 01, 2017 by Sarah Ward
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