Smoke ban: clubs cross great divide

Thin red line: Ann Davies deals with the red tape at South Tamworth Bowling Club. Photo: Robert ChappelTHERE’S no mistaking the anti-smoking legislation in force at South Tamworth Bowling Club – it’s marked out by red tape.
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If anyone with a cigarette in their hand strays into the non-smoking zone they can be hit with a $550 fine, together with a $5500 penalty for the club.

Because it is a one-room club, South Tamworth officials have had to mark out the smoking and non-smoking areas with tape on the floor.

“All our smoking areas are under the exhausts,” club CEO Ann Davies said.

“The only issue we have is that now everyone congregates in the smoking area and there’s no one in the non-smoking areas.”

The smoking area is actually smaller at the club than is enforced by the regulations.

“Under the current regulations you’re allowed 50 per cent of room space and ours is 25 per cent of the floor space, which is what the regulations will be next year,” Ms Davies said.

The club has not had any complaints regarding the regulations as yet.

“Everyone’s really happy and we haven’t had any people we’ve had to chastise,” Ms Davies said.

“The smokers are happy we’ve accommodated them.”

One smoker at the club, Robert Todd, said the smoking bans didn’t worry him and he believed segregation was a good idea.

Alan Pope, a non-smoking patron of the club said the ban should have been brought in years ago.

“I can now come to the club and I know I can sit almost anywhere,” he said.

“Before I had to go early and sit in a corner to be away from smoke.”

North Tamworth Bowling Club president Des Allen said the club was dealing with the smoking bans as best as they could, but he was receiving further advice.

“We have two main bar areas so we’ve restricted the smoking areas to 50 per cent of each of these areas,” Mr Allen said.

“Our signage has to make sure everything is clear and that’s where the Department of Health is going to help us.”

The North Tamworth Bowling Club has asked for more clarification of the regulations as they are “not too sure of the finite parts of it, but we’ve implemented what we think is right” Mr Allen said.

“So far we’ve been talking to a lot of the smokers and they seem to be co-operating. There’s just a bit of a question mark about the variations in the rooms.

“We want to do it right because the fines are pretty hefty.”

Kootingal and District Bowling Club president John Cloake said the club asked the Health Department to advise them on how to organise the areas, as they are also a one-room club.

But not everyone is happy with the regulations.

“I disagree with the ban as these people are smoking a legal substance,” Mr Cloake said. “But the government can allow me to shoot illegal substances into myself in a room in Sydney.

“I do respect the people’s [non-smokers] position, but if you don’t like smoking in clubs don’t go there.”

Tamworth Services Club CEO Gil Swan is also worried about segregating people, but reports no problems with the regulations so far.

“We’ve had no complaints, it’s running extremely well at the moment,” he said.

“We have a division, which is a low wall, but it is not designed to separate people and we don’t want them to feel segregated in the true sense of the word.”

Mr Swan supports the regulations and says everyone should be happy they have been given two years to enforce the total ban.

“In Victoria it came in overnight and in Queensland they have some tough laws. We have two years which is beneficial to all concerned – smokers and non-smokers,” he said.

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