A NEW law banning smoking in public places used by children came into force throughout Victoria on Tuesday.
Smoking is now prohibited at playgrounds, skate parks, swimming pools and sporting venues during underage sporting events.
It is particularly relevant to the Wimmera, which has the highest smoking rates in Australia.
Horsham mother Tracey Pitts, visiting the swings at Horsham Botanic Gardens playground with her children on Tuesday, said she supported the ban.
“I think that’s fabulous,” she said.
“Among our group of friends no-one smokes, but I’d hate it if someone was doing it.
“It’s nice to have a nice clean atmosphere and I didn’t actually know that was happening so that’s good.”
Also at the playground with her child was Horsham mother Andrea Cameron who said she had rarely witnessed people smoking around children in public before the new regulation came into force.
“It’s a good thing,” she said.
“I’m not sure that many people do smoke when there are children around.
“I mean I’ve got another half who smokes, but you wouldn’t even know he smokes because he never does it around kids.”
Health Minister David Davis said the new law would ensure there would be more smoke-free and children-friendly environments.
“These new bans will create thousands of new smoke-free areas used by children and young people across Victoria, protecting them from tobacco-related harm,” he said.
“People will not be allowed to smoke within 10 metres of outdoor children’s playground equipment, skate parks and sporting venues during under-18s sporting events.”
He said the bans were about minimising children’s contact with second-hand smoke.
“Children are more susceptible to second-hand smoke and seeing people smoke will increase their chances of becoming smokers as adults,” Mr Davis said.
“The new law will have a positive community education focus, however where appropriate, an infringement of $144 may be issued to a person smoking in a smoke-free area.”
The most recent National Health Performance Authority report on smoking showed the Grampians Medicare Local area, which stretches from Ballarat to the Wimmera, had the highest smoking rates in Australia.
The report found 28 per cent of adults in the zone smoked – an estimated 45,000 people.