Butt out or face hefty fine
Latrobe City Council local laws staff and officers (left) join council's Acting Manager Healthy Communities, Heather Farley and LRH Director of Corporate Services, Gary Gray in appealing for smokers to heed regulations or be fined.
20 January 2016
Victoria’s smoking laws will be actively enforced at Latrobe Regional Hospital from 27 January.
Latrobe City Council local laws officers will begin patrols of hospital entrances to ensure they remain smoke-free for patients, visitors and staff. People caught smoking near the entrances could be fined up to $760.
Smoking has been banned within four metres of entrances to public hospitals, community health centres, schools and other public buildings and areas since April 2015.
However, many smokers are ignoring the laws by continuing to smoke at the entrances to LRH.
Council local laws officers and environmental health officers are now authorised to enforce the regulations.
Latrobe City Council Mayor, Cr Michael Rossiter said from next week, officers will undertake random patrols at LRH to provide information to smokers and where necessary, enforce the bans.
“The first priority of council officers is to ensure smokers understand the ban, however infringement notices will be issued if a person fails to comply with the no smoking direction,” Cr Rossiter said.
“These smoking bans aim to protect the community from exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke, support people who have quit and those who are trying to quit smoking. The more people see smoking in public places, the more they tend to think smoking is okay, rather than harmful.”
The maximum penalty for someone breaking the smoking law is five penalty units which currently equates to a fine of $760.
In addition to the smoking bans at entrances to the hospital and other buildings on site, LRH has a smoke-free policy which applies to all indoor and outdoor areas within its boundaries.
LRH Director of Corporate Services, Gary Gray said he was frustrated people continued to smoke on site despite clear signage advertising the bans and the hospital’s smoke-free status.
Mr Gray has appealed to smokers to demonstrate empathy to people in the community facing significant health challenges.
“I have been contacted by patients and visitors to the hospital who are upset smokers have no regard for their health and wellbeing,” he said.
“It’s particularly disappointing people are smoking in full view of patients undergoing chemotherapy in the Gippsland Cancer Care Centre. For someone receiving treatment for a life-threatening illness like cancer, it is distressing to look out of the window at people smoking.”
Mr Gray said there have been instances when LRH staff have been abused by smokers when they have attempted to educate them about the smoking bans or smoke-free policy.
“The public expects their local hospital to promote positive health messages. Unfortunately our efforts are being undermined by people who don’t want to take responsibility for their own health,” he said.
“It’s an individual’s choice to smoke. I’m asking them to smoke outside of the hospital grounds.”