By Tess Lawrence
Smokers are firing up after being told to butt out of proposed changes to smoking laws in New South Wales.
The new legislation would see smokers being banned from lighting up on their own private balconies.
A report handed to the New South Wales Government has detailed thousands of complaints by neighbours of smokers in apartment buildings who are fed up dealing with second-hand smoke.
Cameron Murphy, president of the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties, says while smoking is definitely a dangerous habit, legislating these sort of bans will not do any good.
“Banning people from using a lawful product in their own home where it doesn’t escape is the wrong way to go about solving this problem,” he says.
Mr Murphy says there needs to be more focus on banning smoking as a whole.
“I think the real issue here is we have a product which is the only product in Australia that, if it’s use is intended, will kill people,” he says.
The Queensland Cancer Council’s Anne Savage says that if laws like this are legislated, it would ultimately have the desired effect.
“Ideally what we would hope is that this type of thing will prompt many more people to quit,” she says.
Ms Savage says second-hand smoke from people lighting up on balconies is definitely not an issue to be ignored.
“Make no mistake, second-hand smoke is lethal,” she says.
“Exposure to second-hand smoke has as many harmful health effects.”
Gabriel Buckley from the ‘pro choice’ Liberal Democratic Party says if the laws were to pass, they would cut a fine line between being appropriate and being discriminatory.
“Obviously there is a need to balance the right of people to do as they please on their own properties and the rights of other people not to have their properties polluted,” he says.
Mr Buckley says while smoking is definitely a dangerous addiction, governing such a law would be almost impossible.
“It comes down to enforcement,” he says.
“Are you going to have an army of inspectors out there with measuring sticks?
“It’s just unenforceable and that makes for bad legislation.”
The Queensland Cancer Council agrees the law would be hard to control, but Ms Savage says they will not back down in the fight against smoking and its negative effect on people’s lives.
“Admittedly it would be very difficult to enforce, but I think the more important point is that it de-normalises smoking,” she says.
“It creates a social environment where it’s generally understood that it’s no longer acceptable to be exposing others to your second-hand smoke.”