Smokers run out of room
By EMMA CORNFORD
SMOKERS around the Clarence Valley yesterday had their last chance to smoke in all but one room of pubs and clubs, before the second phase of the Carr Government's smoking ban came into effect today.
The ban will see smoking restricted to just one area of licensed premises.
Although the move has been applauded by many health and community organisations, some smokers say the changes could lead to them being ostracised.
Grafton resident Lisa Young, who was yesterday enjoying a cigarette at a pub in town, acknowledged the laws were a good idea but hoped smokers would not be forced to sit outside without cover when they wanted to light up.
"I totally agree with what they're doing because it's not good for you, but for us fools who do smoke we shouldn't be made to feel persecuted," she said.
"Just because we smoke doesn't mean we should be happy to be made to smoke out the back in the rain near the garbage bins."
Ms Young said the new laws would also make her think twice about going out to the pub for a few drinks.
"I think many people will just opt to stay at home and have barbecues with friends and that kind of thing and I'll bet you anything the poker machine revenue will suffer."
She said during a trip to Melbourne's Crown Casino last year, where similar anti-smoking laws were introduced into parliament in May, the small designated smoking areas meant she did not play the pokies and rarely ordered a drink.
"By the time you got to the tiny smoking place and then walked all the way back again, well, you might as well have just stayed there all night."
The New South Wales laws mean smoking will be banned in toilets, on dance floors and in thoroughfares but will be allowed in one designated indoor room and outdoor areas such as beer gardens.
Gaming and Racing Minister Grant McBride said the move to ban smoking was an important one with 'significant community backing'.
"These are common sense measures designed to protect the health of hospitality workers and patrons over a twoyear phase-in period," Mr McBride said.
A total ban on smoking indoors in all licensed premises will take place from July 2007.