AU School Smoking Cops – Gets Power to enter Victoria’s Schools
CIGARETTE “cops” will have the power to enter Victoria’s schools, kindergartens and childcare centres to enforce new bans on outdoor smoking.
Council inspectors will be allowed in to investigate possible breaches and ensure the rules are being complied with.
The measure is seen as important if smoking rates are to be reduced and attitudes among the young changed. Legislation now before Parliament would allow the inspectors into schools as long as they are accompanied and have permission from the principal.
As a last resort they will be able to issue $147 fines to those who consistently flout the restrictions. Smoking will be outlawed within four metres of all school entrances.
An existing ban on lighting up in the grounds of government schools will also be extended to non-government schools, many of which already have their own outdoor smoking bans. Health Minister David Davis said most inspections were likely to be investigations of breaches rather than routine monitoring.
He said community education was the most important factor in the success of such bans. This would include the posting of warning signs. “The objective is to ensure that schoolchildren have a healthy environment at school, and smoking has no place,” he said.
Victorian Principals Association president Gabrielle Leigh also said education was vital, so that parents and older siblings who picked up students from school knew that smoking would no longer be tolerated at the school gates.
Existing bans had already been a strong deterrent, she said. “I think it would be very rare, but this just reinforces good habits that should occur in school grounds,’’ Ms Leigh said.
Quit Victoria’s policy manager, Kylie Lindorff, said the use of external inspectors would help avoid the prospect of confrontations between staff and parents. She said that second-hand smoke, even in low doses, could trigger asthma or respiratory irritations among children.
And children were more likely to take up smoking if they saw adults doing it. “Role modelling is certainly an important issue — the more children think that smoking is normal, the more likely they are to experiment,” Ms Lindorff said.
The restrictions are likely to begin next year.
Local council ‘smoking cops’ will get power to enter victorian schools
Originally written by Wes Hosking