Push to extend smoking bans across Hunter

ANTI-smoking campaigners have set their sights on Maitland and the Upper Hunter, as the push to ban smoking in public areas gains momentum in the region.

Port Stephens and Newcastle councils have introduced smoking bans in public areas, which they own and control.

The Herald reported yesterday that Lake Macquarie City Council would prepare a policy to ban smoking in all council-owned and managed properties.

That includes playgrounds, sporting fields and swimming pools. Bans in outdoor dining areas and beaches will be considered.

The Cancer Council's Hunter co-ordinator Dana Buzinec said Lake Macquarie council had taken a "crucial step towards protecting children, parents and the whole community from toxic second-hand smoke".

The move coincides with State tobacco law reform that outlaws smoking in cars carrying children and ensures the gradual removal of tobacco products from view in retail outlets.

"These bans will benefit those trying to quit smoking, as research shows 54 per cent of people relapse after seeing somebody with a cigarette," Ms Buzinec said.

Campaigners would like smoking bans to extend to bus stops, taxi ranks, train stations and outside shopping centres and hospitals.

Cessnock City Council has banned smoking at playgrounds and pools and Maitland City Council is to consider the matter next month.

Singleton Council has banned smoking at pools and Muswellbrook and Upper Hunter councils will be urged to consider bans.

"We advocate councils to include in their policies all areas where the public congregates," Ms Buzinec said.