First introduced on 31 August 2000, the Smoke Free Environment Act 2000 aims to reduce the public’s exposure to cigarette smoke and give non-smokers a healthier and thriving environment.
So far, the Act has been effective in its purpose, according to a peer-reviewed study. The study suggests that as non-smokers enjoy breathing fresh air almost everywhere – even in pubs – many smokers found themselves discouraged from smoking and motivated to quit after the Act was introduced.
In this post, we’ll take a deeper dive into the Act to explain its details and if it’s still helpful to everyone today.
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Smoke Free Environment Act 2000 Summary
First, let’s discuss the Smoke Free Environment Act 2000.
In a nutshell, the Act aims to reduce tobacco and emissions from cigarette smoke to promote a healthier environment. The Act has been updated to include aerosol and vapour exposure from nicotine vaping devices (NVPs) in various public areas in the country.
The meat-and-potatoes of the Act is its smoking restrictions in various establishments – it mentions that all smoking areas in bars, clubs, casinos, and other establishments should not exceed 25% of the total space measured. This has led to dedicated smoking areas complete with cigarette disposals to preserve cleanliness in the environment.
Moreover, the Act also mentions that restrooms, dining areas, foyers, lobbies, dance floors, auditoriums and private casino rooms in these establishments cannot be appointed as smoking areas.
Can You Smoke in Public in Australia Today?
Anyone currently in Australia knows that you can’t just take out a pack and light a ciggie in the middle of Woolies, but there are designated public areas where you can still smoke a cigarette.
The Act mentions that you cannot consume tobacco in various enclosed public spaces except for their designated smoking area(s). These are the following:
- Public transport such as trains, planes, and buses (all of which have no designated smoking areas)
- Office buildings
- Shopping malls
Keep in mind that the restrictions on smoking aren’t limited to these areas. For instance, you can’t smoke within 10 metres of a children’s playground. It’s also a violation of the Act to smoke in a swimming pool complex, sporting event benches and seating, ferry wharves, or the entrance or exit of any building.
If any smoker violates the Act, they will receive penalty units depending on the state guidelines and the number of repeat offences. Also, keep in mind that the Act covers both smokers and NVP users and has them accrue the same penalty units.
Is It Illegal to Smoke in Restaurants Now?
As mentioned above, the Smoke Free Environment Act 2000 does not restrict smoking in public and business establishments. It is allowed, provided the establishment has a dedicated smoking and vaping area.
It is the business’ responsibility to label its dedicated smoking area and mention it to customers. The business is also the one to address smokers who may violate the guidelines and report them for repeated non-compliance to authorities.
Are You Allowed to Post Tobacco Within Australia?
While this isn’t covered by the Smoke Free Environment Act 2000, it’s still handy to know. It is illegal to post tobacco from both within and outside of Australia.
The Australia Border Force makes it clear in their guidelines that tobacco imports can only enter the country through air or sea cargo for proper processing. Any tobacco posted by mail is illegal and punishable by law.
Furthermore, all tobacco imports that enter via the proper channels are subject to scrutiny based on the Australian Border Force’s guidelines and the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011.
Importing tobacco is only possible if you’re licensed – and to sell it in a shop, you’ll also have to apply for a licence to sell tobacco in the country.
Do the Same Guidelines Apply to Nicotine Vaping Products (NVPs)?
The Australian government has also recently updated the Act to cover aerosol emissions through NVPs.
The Act ensures that all NVP users can only use their devices in the designated smoking areas mentioned. It also means that NVP users can earn penalty units if they use their devices in restricted areas.
While it is certainly not helpful for a motivated person using NVPs to quit smoking to expose themselves to secondhand tobacco smoke, complying with the law is also important.
The Smoke Free Environment Act 2000 has been so far successful in helping Aussies breathe fresh air while giving smokers designated smoking areas to light a cigarette.
While the ideal situation would be to ban smoking altogether, we understand that quitting can be extremely challenging for any smoker.
That’s where we can help.
Smokefree Clinic gives you access to many medically reviewed and trustworthy resources that can inform and aid you in your path to wellness, so have a look around!
If you’re ready to get started, Smokefree can connect you to Australian healthcare professionals who excel in helping patients quit smoking for good.