Smoking in public areas in Neutral Bay, including parks and footpaths, could soon be banned if North Sydney Council succeeds in passing an ordinance that will impact all public places governed by the local government area (LGA).
Mayor Jilly Gibson plans to introduce the blanket initiative at the Council meeting in April. However, all residents in this LGA will have a chance to vote on the ban at the council elections in September 2021. Ms Gibson said that the smoking ban could be included in the referendum questions that will need the inputs of the voters on the ballot.
In 2019, North Sydney Council voted to ban smoking in the CBD but Gibson now wants to expand this law across various suburbs like Neutral Bay, Cammeray, Milsons Point, Crows Nest, St Leonards and the rest of North Sydney.
If this proceeds, this LGA will be the first in all of Australia to impose a smoking ban in all public places. However, some suburbs whose areas are partly under the Willoughby Council will not be fully covered by the ban, such as Crows Nest and St Leonards.
Ms Gibson is anticipating the criticisms from the public but she stands firm in the belief that streets and public places should be smoke-free. She also doesn’t want the city streets to be riddled with cigarette butts. The mayor said that there are street workers who leave traces of their cigarettes on the ground and this initiative is one way to make public places cleaner.
Businesses in Neutral Bay, on the other hand, wonder how this rule will be enforced when there are plenty of venues with spacious outdoor areas that people use to pop a ciggie break.
Meanwhile, rangers across the LGA are not yet issuing smoking fines despite the smoking ban in the CBD. A spokesperson said this will be enforced in the second stage of the ordinance’s rollout, which will likely already include the other suburbs.