NEW laws banning people from smoking less than four metres from the entrance of schools and hospitals will be introduced next week.
First published in the 10 April 2015 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen.
From Monday 13 April anyone seen smoking outside a school or hospital could face a fine of up to $738.
The Victorian Labor government brought forward the introduction of the new laws to protect children starting their second term at school from second-hand smoke.
Until the change the laws were due to come into effect on 30 June.
The State Government estabi-shed the laws last year in the Tob-acco Amendment Act 2014 to cut down on tobacco-related deaths.
The laws will see anyone smo-king outside the entrance of a school, childcare centre, kinderg-arten or preschool will be given an immediate $147 fine.
Fines will also be given to anyone smoking outside of hospitals, community health centres, parlia-ment buildings, courts and police stations.
Victorian health minister Jill Hennessy said the rate of death from smoking-related illnesses was too high and healthy places like hospitals should remain smoke-free.
“We want to ensure patients and their visitors aren’t subjected to second hand smoke,” Ms Hennessy said in a media release.
Approximately 4,000 Victorians die each year from smoking, while tobacco-related illness costs the health system $2.4 billion.
Minister for Families and Chil-dren Jenny Mikalos said in a media release the effects of smoking on children and babies were more damaging than for adults.
The Baw Baw Shire Council introduced several smoke free areas across Warragul, Drouin, Trafalgar and other localities in a trial which began in August 2011.
Areas covered by the Baw Baw by-law include playgrounds, kind-ergartens, sporting facilities and outside libraries, skate parks and swimming pools.
The council’s local laws depart-ment is still reviewing the findings of this trial to decide if these areas should be kept smoke free
Education minister James Merlino said that the bans would help to show children that smoking is not ordinary behaviour.
“The more they see smoking in public, the more they might think smoking is okay when we all know it’s not,” Mr Merlino said in a media release.
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