The end of the line for public smoking in Ku ring gai – but is the ban a toothless tiger?
Smokers beware – cigarette smoking in parks, sports fields, ovals, bushland areas and playgrounds throughout Ku ring gai is out from November 1. Flout the ban and you could be up for a $250 fine.
Ku ring gai Council slapped a ban on the practice after an online poll earlier this year found 80 per cent of respondents wanted to see the end of smoking in public places, so if someone drops a cigarette butt, the “current penalty fee is $250 for littering under the Protection of Environment Operations Act and/or a $110 fine for smoking in a public place where a notice or sign prohibits the activity,” said a Council spokesperson.
She added: “Council officers have the power to request the name and address of persons they suspect to have committed an offence and in theory police could be called if they refuse to provide those details. However the aim of the ban is that it will be regulated by community sentiment.”
The move is an extension of the bans already put in place by the state government which came into effect in 2012, which made it illegal to smoke outdoors at bus stops, train stations and within four metres of public building entrances like cafes and restaurants.
Similar bans to Ku ring gai’s are already in place in Hornsby, the Northern Beaches and North Sydney council areas, while Martin Place in the CBD is now completely smoke free, with the ban to be extended to Pitt Street Mall later this year.
But questions have been raised about how effective these bans really are – in neither Hornsby nor the City of Sydney have any calls to police been made to request backup.
In response a City of Sydney spokesperson said: “This is primarily an educational campaign to reinforce non-smoking. Rangers are trained to encourage smokers to extinguish and dispose of their cigarettes appropriately or move on. Failure to comply could result in a fine of up to $110.
“Rangers judge each case on its individual merits and they have the authority to demand the name and address of a person caught smoking in the prohibited area. It is an offence to withhold information from a ranger when questioned in relation to a waste or litter offence.
“If details are not provided, rangers are permitted to enter a premises to gather the necessary information. Refusal to provide this information can result in another fine of up to $500. If rangers require support, they may request assistance from NSW police.”