Tamworth Regional Council: Smokers banned from Peel Street block as plan goes to public exhibition | The Northern Daily Leader

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SMOKERS will have to butt out of another block on Peel Street. Tamworth Regional Council voted to extend its smoke-free environment policy to the CBD block between Bourke and Darling Street at last night’s meeting and put it up for public exhibition. It’s good news for non-smokers but there are still questions about who, and how the ban will be enforced. Compliance officers can’t fine smokers without a name or address, so it’s largely up to the public to police the issue. But, an evaluation of the policy showed community members aren’t likely to approach smokers and tell them to “butt out” in a smoke-free zone. It’s simply about people doing the right thing, the council’s regulatory services manager Ross Briggs said. “We certainly don’t have the capacity to have people standing within the smoke-free areas every time and tapping every smoker on the shoulder,” he said. Read also: The council’s plan of attack is to arm the public with enough education and resources to feel comfortable talking to smokers in the CBD, plus increase regulatory patrols in smaller communities like Barraba and Manilla. The policy itself has been hugely effective in reducing smoking in public areas. Mayor Col Murray commended the community on its hard work in policing the smoking ban. “It was a conscious move by council not to bring the big stick out,” he said. A survey of 165 businesses in the smoke-free CBD’s of Tamworth, Manilla and Barraba showed at least 90 per cent of those asked knew about the policy and threw their support behind it. There has been a change in community attitudes, Mr Briggs said. Three quarters of the people surveyed in Tamworth believed smoking had reduced since the policy was introduced in 2016. But, it seems the small-town smokers haven’t all followed suit, with only 30 per cent agreeing there is less smoking in Manilla and Barraba. Nundle and Kootingal flatly rejected smoke-free main streets when community consultation in 2015 revealed residents were strongly opposed to the idea. The door is always open to them to join the anti-smoking movement, Mr Briggs said. “If those community areas decide they want to be part of it they can certainly put their hands up and come and see us,” he said. “We’ll leave the door open for those villages.” Part of the strategy to increase uptake is to install more prominent signage in the main streets. New signage will cost about $3,300 and will include the banning of electronic cigarettes, also known as vape pens. The council will also consider promotion on Facebook and Instagram for the next 12 months at a $2,200 cost. The policy will go to a 28-day public exhibition period before the new signage and extension rolls out. Want more local news? Subscribe to the Leader to read it here first


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