The Tobacco Act has undergone a number of reforms to provide tougher controls on tobacco display, advertising and sales, as well as the places where smoking can occur.
The following information may help a business operator or patron familiarise themselves with some of the new reforms.
From 1 August 2017, changes to the Tobacco Act 1987 (Tobacco Act) mean that smoking is banned in outdoor dining areas in Victoria. Outdoor Dining areas include:
- hospitality venues/restaurants, takeaway shops and cafes
- food fairs
- within 10 metres of food stalls and food vendors
- organised events (other than a food fair)
The introduction of smoke-free outdoor dining now means there are two types of outdoor areas for dining and drinking activities. An outdoor area is either:
- an outdoor dining area, or
- an outdoor drinking area
What is an outdoor dining area?
An outdoor dining area is an outdoor public area that has an occupier, and in which the occupier permits the consumption of food provided on a commercial basis. This is whether or not the food is prepared by, or on behalf of, the occupier.
This means during times food that is provided on a commercial basis:
- is actually being eaten, or
- is available to be purchased and eaten
(regardless of whether anyone is eating).
Typical examples of outdoor dining areas include footpath dining, courtyards, balconies, and beer gardens that form part of, or are attached to, cafes, restaurants, take-away outlets, pubs and licensed premises.
It also includes outdoor food courts provided for customers of multiple take-away outlets.
To minimise smoke-drift, outdoor drinking areas (where smoking is permitted under certain conditions) must be separated from outdoor dining areas by either:
- a 4 metre buffer zone, or
- a wall at least 2.1 meters high (such as a plastic café blind).
The smoking ban does not apply to outdoor areas where only snacks are eaten or provided.
A snack is a pre-packaged shelf-stable food that:
- is sealed in the container or package in which the manufacturer intended it to be sold, and
- does not require any preparation prior to serving.
Shelf-stable food is generally taken to mean food that can be stored safely for long periods (months) at room temperature.
Snacks also include uncut and unpeeled fruit. Examples of snacks include pre-packaged potato crisps, nuts and chocolate bars.
Pre-packaged sandwiches and hot chips are not snacks.
Occupiers must display acceptable ‘No smoking’ signage to indicate smoke-free areas at a hospitality venue, food fair or organized outdoor event.
The prominent display of ‘No smoking’ signage is a key aspect of smoke-free outdoor dining. It will help make customers aware of the ban, promote voluntary compliance and prevent unintentional smoking in smoke-free areas.
Outdoor dining areas
‘No smoking’ signs must be displayed so customers are reasonably likely to see one or more signs when entering, or from within, the outdoor dining area. For example, signs can be displayed at, or beside the entrance to, an outdoor dining area.
Outdoor drinking areas within 4 meters of outdoor dining areas
‘No smoking’ signs must be displayed in an outdoor drinking area if any part of that area is within 4 meters of an outdoor dining area and is not separated by a wall at least 2.1 metres high.
In this case, the occupier of the outdoor drinking area is responsible for displaying the ‘No smoking’ signage. The signs must be displayed so customers are reasonably likely to see one or more signs when entering, or from within, the outdoor drinking area.
Food fairs and organised events
‘No smoking’ signs must be displayed so that customers are reasonably likely to see one or more signs when entering, or from within, the outdoor dining area at the food fair or organised event.
Event organisers and managers should evaluate the layout of the food fair or organised event and decide where signs are to be displayed to ensure they are likely to be seen by customers.
Multiple signs in different locations may be necessary depending on the size and layout of the food fair or organised event.
For example, signs can be placed at the main entrance and at any designated eating areas such as tables and chairs.
At organised events (other than food fairs), organisers and managers could distribute signs to food stalls and food vendors and request that they be displayed.