Dear Member of the Victorian Parliament,
Please will you sincerely think through the issues regarding the proposed legislation affecting restaurants, cafes, indoor dining areas and shopping centres with regards to becoming smoke free.
This proposed legislation is a strong step towards improving Victoria and needs your support. It is also important for you to recognise how harmful passive smoking is to people and the need to extend legislation further to protect all people, especially those in our community who are more vulnerable, being those with disabilities exacerbated by environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and especially children.
In 1997, I and Mr Neil Francey co-complainant, won a case against Hilton Hotels Pty Ltd under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. Smoking inside the nightclub was recognised by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission as unlawful discrimination (http://scaleplus.law.gov.au/html/ddadec/0/97/0/DD000-1-10.htm). In fact, it needs to be recognised that any smoking which prevents safe access to goods and services is unlawful discrimination and needs to end. The final judgement, this year, has left it up to the NSW Government to end the unlawful discrimination by the Hilton Hotels Pty Ltd (http://www.hreoc.gov.au/disability_rights/decisions/comdec/Meeuwissen___Francey_v._Hilton__No2_.htm).
Though it needs to be recognised that under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, smoking ought not be permitted in any workplace which would include not only all dining areas and supermarkets but also pubs, clubs, nightclubs, sporting arenas etc. It appears that this is not enforced and further legislation is required to ensure the safety of employees and others.
The issue of safe access into smoke free areas is also essential. Having people smoking around doors not only means that smoke can drift into the smoke free area, but also people with disabilities exacerbated by ETS are being unlawfully discriminated against. Having a smoke free building and people smoking around doors not so different from having a wheelchair accessible building and stairs to enter into the building. Are you able to assist in this issue?
The issue of smokers' rights is frequently raised. You, no doubt would agree that with rights comes responsibilities. Warnings on cigarette packets include "Smoking harms others", thus it is essential that where smoking occurs the prevention of harm to others must be seen as paramount.
I wish to take the opportunity to raise the need for smoke free access into hospitals. Many people including children, infants and babies with respiratory disabilities are unable to hold their breath long enough to enter without risk. Where people smoke on hospital premises needs to be dealt with responsibly and as top priority. Please will you address this need?
An employee at the Royal Childrens' Hospital in Parkville informed me that people smoke next to the vents of the Paediatric Intensive Care and smoke enters into this unit. This is shocking. Will you take action to stop this from occurring?
Please remember not only can passive smoking cause harm, it can also cause death.
Smoking needs to occur only with consenting adults in their own home or in specially designated areas, all other places need to be smoke free.
Your role in creating a better, safer world is vital.