Should you provide designated smoking areas?


Should you provide designated smoking areas?

What rules and regulations apply to designated smoking areas in the workplace? Gaby Grammeno explains.

What rules and regulations apply to designated smoking areas in the Victorian workplace?

This question was recently sent to our Ask an Expert service.

Q What regulations/requirements are there regarding designated smoking areas in and around the workplace? I'm looking at things like distance from doors, types of ventilation and so on. 
A In Victoria, the Tobacco Act 1987 prohibits smoking in any enclosed area of a workplace. It has been banned in enclosed areas of workplaces since 2007. Smoking is only permitted in outdoor areas that are not substantially enclosed.
‘Enclosed’ means an area, room or premises that is substantially enclosed by a roof and walls, regardless of whether the roof or walls or any part of them are permanent, temporary, open or closed.
Some workplaces are exempt from the law, including:
  • residential premises not used for carrying on a business
  • a part of a residential premises used for carrying on a business where only the persons who reside at the premises are in that part (that is, no non-resident employees or members of the public are present)
  • a place of business occupied by a sole operator and that is not for the use of the public
  • outdoor drinking areas (eg at pubs)
  • a vehicle (unless a person under 18 years of age is in the vehicle, in which case smoking in the vehicle is prohibited)
  • personal sleeping or living areas of a premises providing accommodation to members of the public for a fee (such as a hotel), or residential care facilities including types of residential care services, supported residential services and aged care services
  • an area in a designated mental health service
  • a detention centre established under migration legislation, and
  • high-roller rooms at a casino.
Recent amendments to the law provide for smoke-free areas at outdoor areas at hospitality and food venues when food is available, at food fairs and within 10 metres of a food vendor at an organised event.
Smoking is also banned at patrolled beaches, at outdoor children’s playground equipment, skate parks, sporting venues during organised under-age sporting events, and outdoor areas within public swimming pool complexes. It is also banned within the grounds of, and within four metres of entrances to, childcare centres, kindergartens, preschools, primary and secondary schools.
Smoking is also banned within four metres of the entrances to:
  • children’s indoor play centres
  • public hospitals and registered community health centres, and
  • certain Victorian government buildings.
A designated smoking area at a workplace would therefore have to be in an area that is not substantially enclosed by a roof and walls – for example, an outdoor area, ideally at least four metres from any door or window into which smoke could drift.

Readers should note that there is some variation in requirements across the different jurisdictions in Australia. 

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