Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Benalla butts out near kids

New Victorian Government laws will protect children from the dangers of second-hand smoke.

MONIQUE FREER April 9, 2014 8:43am

Supporting children’s health: Susanna French with Reuben, Rebecca James with Josie, Lisa Finnis with Sienna, Jacqui Thomas with Seth and Lisa Sullivan with twins Isla and Mitchell are supporting the goverment’s new outdoor smoking bans.

A group of Benalla mothers has welcomed new laws from the Victorian Government that will protect their children from the dangers of second-hand smoke.

The law was introduced on April 1 to ban smoking at outdoor public playgrounds, skate parks, swimming pool complexes and sporting venues during underage sporting events.

Rebecca James, whose daughter Josie turns one next month, said the ban would improve the health of children of all ages.

‘‘It’s good because you go outside for fresh air, and for the kids to have a break,’’ Rebecca James said.

‘‘The kids crawl around and pick up the cigarette butts.

‘‘It’s disgusting, because you wouldn’t put it on your floors at home.’’

Victorian Health Minister David Davis said under the new outdoor smoking bans people would not be allowed to smoke within 10m of outdoor children’s playground equipment, skate parks and sporting venues during under-18 sporting events.

‘‘These new bans will create thousands of new smoke-free areas used by children and young people across Victoria, protecting them from tobacco-related harm,’’ Mr Davis said.

‘‘Children are more susceptible to second-hand smoke, and seeing people smoke will increase their chances of becoming smokers as adults.’’

Mr Davis said smoking was now also banned at outdoor areas of public swimming pool complexes.

Mother Lisa Finnis said she hoped to see the bans extended in the future to outdoor eating areas and cafes.

‘‘There needs to be some more consideration for the people around you,’’ Ms Finnis said.

‘‘There are an amazing amount of people who will light up right in front of you.’’

Lisa Sullivan, mother of 11-month-old twins Isla and Mitchell, said she had become more sensitive to second-hand smoke and the dangers it posed to her children since becoming a mother.

‘‘People probably think that it’s an open area and it’s dissipating, but the kids would definitely be breathing it in,’’ she said.

Many sporting venues across Benalla have already been promoting their events as smoke-free, and welcome the legislation change to support their endeavours.

‘‘The Benalla and District Junior Football League supports the new bans on smoking at junior sporting events,’’ BDJFL spokesperson Darren Skelton said.

‘‘The league has for many years promoted our matches as smoke-free events, particularly at the Auskick Centre.

‘‘Prior to the season commencing we will be ensuring that parents and other spectators are aware of the new requirements.

‘‘Anything that can assist to improve the health outcomes and safety of our participants is something we are certainly interested in supporting.’’

However, for some the laws are only one step in the journey to improve children’s health.

‘‘I think it should be banned altogether anywhere where there are kids,’’ mother Jacqui Thomas said.

Mr Davis said the new laws would focus on positive community education, however an infringement of $144 may be issued to a person smoking in a smoke-free area.

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