Sydney pushes ahead with smoking ban

Smoking will become illegal in Sydney and police can arrest people who don't comply. Photo / iStock
Smoking will become illegal in Sydney and police can arrest people who don't comply. Photo / iStock

Council rangers in Sydney's CBD may call on police to assist in arresting smokers who light up in the city's centre and refuse to give their names and addresses.

Enforcing a smoking ban in two key public areas in Sydney, Martin Place and the Pitt Street Mall, the City of Sydney council is pushing ahead with plans to arrest and fine smokers who defy the ban.

Announcing its plan to turn Pitt Street's busy shopping mall into a smoke-free area, the council initially claimed its rangers could demand the name and address of people caught smoking and then arrest offenders who refused to give their details when faced with a $110 fine.

Now the council says it may call on NSW police to detain offenders, as rangers do not have powers of arrest.

"Rangers have the authority to demand the name and address of a person who is caught smoking in the prohibited area. Refusal to provide this information can result in a fine," a City of Sydney spokeswoman told Central Sydney.

But the rangers would need police officers to arrest a smoker who did not co-operate or provide ID.

The council plans to enforce the smoke-free zone later this year in the Mall and at Martin Place, which has undergone a 12 month trial as a no smoking area.

During the trial, City of Sydney rangers were given the power to demand a smoker's details, and if they didn't comply, to follow them into their workplace and pressure them into providing their information.

Ten months into the trial, in March this year, no-one had been fined for smoking in Martin Place, and smokers dropped from 300 to as low as 30 a week.

The council claims the smoking ban is to "focus on a healthier way of life ... and promote civic pride" by limiting cigarette butt litter, and not for raising revenue.

NSW Government laws made it illegal to smoke outdoors at bus stops, train stations, public building entrances, and near playgrounds and sports ovals.

Sydney council said it trained rangers "to judge each case on individual merit and encourage smokers to extinguish and dispose of their cigarettes appropriately, or move on from the area".

The City of Sydney said 80 per cent of the people it surveyed agreed the Martin Place smoking ban should be permanent.

Clayton Zwanenburg, a visitor to the Pitt St Mall, disagreed. Mr Zwanenburg told Central Sydney the ban was an infringement on his freedom.

"I appreciate that there's people who don't like it but then if you're walking here and you saw a group of people smoking, don't come and stand here,' he said.

"I have every right to sit here and smoke and you have every right to sit here and not have a smoke blown in your face.

"I try and be courteous when I'm around people, I'll blow it down or up and out, I don't blow it in people's faces but ... it's an attack on people's choices.

"We sell ourselves as a free country but, we're not really."

- news.com.au

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