Smoke-free commercial outdoor dining

Welcome Smoke-free Outdoor Dining

Commercial outdoor dining areas in NSW are now required to be smoke-free under the Smoke-free Environment Act 2000. Areas that must be smoke-free include:

  • Seated dining areas
  • Areas within 4 metres of a seating dining area on a licensed premises, restaurant or café
  • Ares within 4 metres of a public entrance or exit to a licensed premises, restaurant or café, and
  • Within 10 metres of a food fair stall.

Why does Cancer Council NSW support smoke-free commercial outdoor dining?

1.   To protect the community from harmful secondhand smoke

Smoke-free commercial outdoor dining laws help to protect the health of the community by reducing exposure to harmful secondhand smoke.

In 2014, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found sufficient evidence that exposure to secondhand smoke causes lung cancer, stroke, nasal irritation and coronary heart disease in non-smoking adults; asthma, wheeze illnesses, respiratory illnesses and reduced lung function in children; and reduced birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome in infants. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke.

2.   To reduce smoking experimentation and uptake by youth

Smoke-free commercial outdoor dining laws can reduce youth smoking experimentation and uptake by making smoking less visible and less socially acceptable.

A study from the United States that interviewed children aged 12 to 17 during 2001-2002 and then followed with them again two years later found that youth living in towns with complete restaurant smoking bans were less likely to be smokers at follow up than youth living in towns with weaker smoking restrictions. Research conducted in Australia has also shown an association between more comprehensive smoke-free policies and reduced youth smoking.

In its systematic review of evidence on the effectiveness of smoke-free policies the International Agency for Research on Cancer reported “strong evidence” that “smoke-free policies reduce tobacco use among youth”.

3.   To make quitting and staying quit easier

Smoke-free commercial outdoor dining laws may also support smoking cessation by reducing the occasions when ex-smokers and people trying to quit are exposed to smoking reminders. One Australian study that asked smokers about their experience with smoking in bars and pubs found that regular smokers believed that smoking in pubs and clubs provided strong prompts for smoking relapse.

Australian research estimating the impact of smoking policies, tobacco control mass media campaigns, NRT advertising and NRT sales on smoking prevalence found that stronger smoke-free policies, higher tobacco prices and increased exposure to mass media campaigns could explain 76% of the decrease in smoking prevalence from February 2002 to June 2011.

Does the NSW community support the ban on smoking in commercial outdoor dining areas?

Yes. Most NSW adults support smoke-free commercial outdoor dining areas. The 2013 NSW Smoking and Health Survey found that:

  • 78% of respondents supported a ban on smoking within 4 metres of a pedestrian access point to a public building, and
  • 75% supported a ban on smoking in all outdoor areas in hotels, restaurants and cafés.

Cancer Council NSW research has also found low community tolerance of secondhand smoke, with more than two thirds of respondents reporting that they avoid places where they may be exposed to the tobacco smoke of others.

How will smoke-free outdoor dining affect hospitality businesses?

Smoke-free commercial outdoor dining in NSW will benefit hospitality businesses by improving the health and productivity of employees, reducing cleaning and maintenance fees, and reducing the risk of potential litigation.

Research studies consistently conclude that smoke-free policies do not have an adverse impact on the business activity of hospitality businesses. In its systematic review on the effectiveness of smoke-free policies the International Agency for Research on Cancer found that there was sufficient evidence that smoke-free policies “do not cause a decline in the business activity of the restaurant and bar industry”. In fact, some studies have shown that smoke-free policies can have a small positive impact on businesses.

For example research conducted in Victoria suggests that people may choose to eat out more often if outdoor dining areas are smoke-free. The research found that 22% said they would eat out more frequently after a ban on smoking, with just 5% saying they would eat out less often.

Who will enforce smoke-free commercial outdoor dining laws?

NSW Health is responsible for enforcement of the Smoke-free Environment Act 2000. NSW Health Inspectors are authorised to enforce bans on smoking under the Act. Fines for non-compliance include:

  • On the spot fines of $300 for individuals found smoking in smoke-free areas
  • $550 for business owners not displaying required signage
  • Up to $5,500 for business owners not enforcing smoke-free areas on their premises

What can I do if I think a smoke-free law has been breached?

If you see an outdoor smoking ban being broken you can report it to NSW Health using the online reporting form.

NSW Health Inspectors will use information you provide through the online reporting form to target enforcement of outdoor smoking bans.

More information about the smoke-free commercial outdoor dining laws is available on the NSW Health website.