Wandering down the streets of the Sydney CBD sees me contemplating what the future of smoking will be. I’ve always found that there is no point predicting the future, as it never ceases to amaze me how things rarely work out how you plan or imagine.
Nevertheless, it appears to be an enlightening topic.
Will there ever come a day when tobacco smoking will be banned altogether in Australia, Western countries or worldwide? No doubt such a drastic measure will only incite rage amongst cigarette and tobacco company giants, while pleasing anti smoking organisations. Or will the Government choose to restrict smoking so much so that we can escape inhaling it on a daily basis in Sydney city? If so, what will public reaction be if we go further down the road of limitations on smokers?
In Australia, it is evident that smoking is declining.
Statistics from The Cancer Council indicate that while approximately 72% of Australian men and 26% of women smoked daily in 1945, only 18.6% of Australian men and 16.3% of women smoked daily in 2004.
Furthermore, according to Jeff Singleton, media adviser to Minister for Health (Cancer) Verity Firth, New South Wales has one of the lowest smoking rates in the Western world with only 17% of the NSW community being regular smokers at present.
These are encouraging statistics. It means we are progressing, rather than taking steps backwards.
Nevertheless, it is by no means certain that this progress will continue well into this century.
Peter Ho, Manager at Martin Place Bar, says the future of smoking in society is bleak.
“I think that the smoking industry in Australia is on the down. A lot of people are more health conscious now and are turning away from it”, he says.
Nikki Luckey, at the Verandah Bar, says “Hopefully in the future, the government will go even further than the current restrictions and ban smoking on the streets and most public places”.
To combat smoking, Nita Paterson, bartender at the Vault Hotel, suggests that “the Government should increase the price of cigarettes”.
Singleton provides some insight into l’avenir of this industry
“We have just finished the arrangements with implementing the indoor smoking ban. This was the biggest reform to smoking laws in about a decade. At this stage, we’re not contemplating shifting the goal post in terms of banning smoking in outdoor areas or cars. We’ll continue to monitor the laws we’ve introduced, and reactions to them”, he says.
Will smoking be banned in cars in New South Wales? Such measures have just recently been put into practice in South Australia, Tasmania and even the UK.
Singleton responds “I think there is a responsibility on parents to protect their children and recognise that second hand smoke can have serious consequences for their children, particularly when they are breathing it in enclosed vehicles.”
There is one significant obstacle towards implementing such a ban. Enforcement.
According to Singleton, “We need to be mindful of not creating laws which we can’t enforce. In Britain, as part of their ban on indoor smoking, they also tackled smoking in company cars at the end of June 2007. We’ll look to the UK, Tasmania and South Australia as a model to how these laws are operating and being enforced”, he says.
To counter smoking in society, Singleton says that “the Government will continue to use graphic advertising to show the detrimental effects of smoking”.
Like I said, it is uncertain what will become of this addictive habit in the future. I look forward to seeing how the Government will respond to smoking in years to come, creating a healthier and more informed society, by balancing the needs and interests of Australians.
A lady smokes with her husband in Sydney CBD