Wimmera smoking bans to take effect | Poll

NEW smoking bans could be an adjustment for some Wimmera smokers, with the average smoking rates in western Victoria higher than the national average. 

Western Victoria Primary Health Network 2016 data showed the national average rate for smoking was 16 per cent, with a higher rate of 19 per cent recorded for western Victoria.

Horsham Rural City, Northern Grampians and West Wimmera performed better than the wider region, with rates of 11.1 per cent, 14.3 and 14.6 respectively.

More smokers were shown to live in Yarriambiack Shire, which recorded a rate of 20.9 per cent, and Hindmarsh Shire, with a rate of 19.8 per cent.

New regulations that come into effect on August 1 will mean people cannot smoke in any outdoor dining areas where food is served.

The ban does not extend to outdoor drinking areas.

Horsham’s Exchange Hotel publican Nick Murray said while he supported the ban in principle, it removed people’s ability to choose where they wanted to sit.

“We do our best to cater for everyone with both non-smoking and smoking areas,” he said.

“Some people don’t mind sitting in smoking areas, but with the ban, they don’t get to decide that anymore.

“It’s a bit like the government playing Big Brother and not letting people have a choice.” Mr Murray said the hotel would have to change what they did slightly to cater for the ban.

“Smoking doesn’t really have a place within eating areas and I support that,” he said. “We knew we were heading this way with bans and we would be foolish to think otherwise.”

Quit Victoria director Sarah White said people in regional and rural areas were more likely to smoke than their city counterparts. 

She said the reasons for the disparity were unclear.

“There are probably more opportunities for people in rural and regional areas to smoke, for example if they are working outdoors, compared with those working in the city,” she said.