The Victorian government has defended its decision to continue to allow high rollers to smoke at Crown Casino, despite state-wide bans for all other venues that start on Sunday.
From July 1, smoking will be banned in all enclosed licensed pubs, clubs, bars and gaming rooms across Victoria – except high-roller rooms at Crown in Melbourne.
Stafford Sanders of SmokeFree Australia says all enclosed workplaces should be smoke-free and giving an exemption to Crown was wrong.
„The high-roller rooms are unacceptable exemptions, they’re smoking black holes basically and no one should be required to work in an environment where they’re surrounded by lots of tobacco smoke,“ Mr Sanders told AAP.
„We know there’s no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke.“
Mr Bracks said the exemption was designed to accommodate international high rollers and was in line with the policies of other Australian states.
„We have to recognise and acknowledge that they have special and unique circumstances and that has been done as part of this,“ Mr Bracks told reporters.
„It is a very, very small percentage of what is going to be a great benefit to the people of this state.“
Mr Bracks said he would consult with other states before reconsidering the Crown exemption.
In other venues, those who flout the laws risk AUD 110 on-the-spot fines, rising to AUD 550 for those who contest the penalty notice in court.
Venues face the same penalties, per offence, and environmental health officers will enforce the laws through random inspections.
Mr Sanders also said the requirement for outdoor smoking areas to be no more than 75 per cent enclosed, was not tough enough.
Health groups have applauded the new bans.
Quit Victoria acting director Suzie Stillman said the bans would help the broader fight against smoking.
„This is a major blow against the tobacco industry who have long seen these sorts of environments as the sorts of places, in fact nicotine classrooms if you like, for encouraging young people and holding (holding) young people into the smoking habit,“ she said.
Vic Health chief executive Todd Harper said tobacco companies had strategically exploited and marketed to young people in pubs and clubs.
Cancer Council of Victoria director David Hill said the vast majority of Victorians were looking forward to the change and data showed 80 per cent of Victorians supported the bans.
Kathy Bell of the Heart Foundation said passive smoke could lead to serious respiratory illness, cancer and heart disease.