A controversial ban on smoking in Hobart's outdoor malls has been well received, the city's council says.
Hobart City Council in May passed a ban on smoking at three outdoor malls in central Hobart, which took effect on Sunday.
Smoking in Hobart's alfresco dining areas will be illegal from August next year.
I've been meaning to write about the extremism sweeping through the Antipodes for a while. As has been happening in California, local officials seem to be vying with each other to bring in the most draconian legislation.
The ban caused controversy when first announced, with retailers expressing concern it could affect business.
But the council said at the time it was proud to have some of the nation's most stringent anti-smoking laws.
Discussing the new ban, Hobart's Lord Mayor, Rob Valentine, summed up the old Velvet Glove/Iron Fist dichotomy in a few well chosen words. First came the good cop...
"It's been well received, but at the same time we're not trying to pounce on people," he told ABC Radio on Monday.
Mr Valentine said he hoped the council would not have to enforce the ban with fines.
"We're not really keen to go down the punitive measure trail because we think that people at the end of the day will support it.
"There are others that will see smokers and point to the no-smoking sign.
And then the bad cop...
"But if push comes to shove, there is a $200 fine."
Inevitably, campaigners now want to see an outdoor smoking ban across the state. Equally inevitably, they are citing that old favourite: the level playing field.
The Cancer Council's Darren Carr says a blanket ban "would put all councils and all restaurants on a level playing field".
In recent years Tasmania, like the rest of Australia, has become a world leader in tobacco control. It has an indoor smoking ban, a partial outdoor smoking ban, graphic warnings on packs, huge tax rises on cigarettes and a total ban on tobacco advertising.
So how are all these 'evidence-based' policies working out?
The Heart Foundation's chief executive Graeme Lynch says in 2001 approximately 24 per cent of Tasmanians smoked.
"And the latest ABS figures [show] that rate has actually risen to 24.9 per cent," he said.
Keep up the good work, chaps.