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Smoking ban ignites "Nanny State" debate

IPSWICH'S smoking ban has been described as a step towards a "nanny state" by civil libertarians, a claim dismissed by Mayor Paul Pisasale.

Queensland Council for Civil Liberties president Michael Cope said the Ipswich Mall was an open area where cigarette smoke could be avoided.

Ipswich City Council introduced a smoking ban in the mall this month, with the Ipswich Hospital announcing a similar ban for their grounds to be enforced later this year.

But Cr Pisasale reiterated his position, that smokers had abused the mall, blowing smoke into people's faces and leaving cigarette butts to be cleaned up by the community.

Mr Cope said smoking was a personal lifestyle choice and individuals would live with the consequences.

"Our position on smoking in public areas is that while we understand why these things are banned, our concern is it becomes the thin end of the wedge when it comes to being a nanny state," he said.

Cr Pisasale said Ipswich was not a nanny state and the council was not banning smoking.

"It's not a nanny state. Mr Cope doesn't know what he is talking about. It's a confined space where we are trying to create clean air," he said. "We have had constant complaints where people have misused the privilege and stubbed their butts into the ground or in gardens and the community have had to clean them up."

Ipswich City Council had issued on average 15 fines a day since their inception, and UQ Law School senior lecturer Dr Paul O'Shea said it would be hard to challenge the legality of the fine. He said only hard evidence proving public health was not at risk by smoking would overturn any fine.

"That could be an argument, that it was not just for public health reasons but for other reasons. But that's going to be difficult to prove," he said.

"It would be difficult for someone to challenge the law. If, however, evidence was produced that the threat to public health was non-existent the council would have a problem but I don't think that would be the case. The issue would be whether this law is just pursuant to the council's powers to preserve public health."

Dr O'Shea said the council's law-making ability extended to public health issues and not behavioural issues.

"They don't have powers to pass laws about public order or behaviour. The balance between individual rights and freedoms is, for the large part, left to elected officials and not to the courts."

Two thirds support smoking ban at hospital but others fume

SMOKING bans in the Ipswich Mall and more recently at the Ipswich Hospital have polarised Queensland Times readers.

A poll conducted on the QT website found 69% of readers supported the ban of smoking at the hospital, but those against the ban argued it was an over-reaction by authorities.

Kezza618 wrote that smokers were being discriminated against by being told where they could and couldn't light up.

"Well sorry to say, we are being 'discriminated big time!' There are many of us that do the right thing, put our butts where they are supposed to.

"We have followed all the rules that have been put in place and now this!"

WWilliams from One Mile said the bans were a little over the top.

"I'm a former smoker, and aware of the downside to the habit, but all these borderline hysterical reactions to it are increasingly reminiscent of a little Austrian corporal," he wrote.

Many readers supported the move by the Ipswich City Council and Mayor Paul Pisasale to protect the public from the health risk of passive smoking.

Newboy from Ipswich said banning smoking from places such as the Ipswich Mall was a positive for the community.

"Anything to restrict smoking is a good thing. Perhaps the chat room could use the ban in an educative way to encourage the young people not to smoke."

Ipswitchyite from Ipswich said smoking outside the hospital was not a good look for patients or staff.

"Good. It's really pathetic to walk outside the entrance of the hospital and see them all sitting there puffing away.

"It's probably the habit that's put them in the hospital using up the beds and free health care in the first place. It's really sickening."

Topics:  editors picks, paul pisasale, smoking bans



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