Strengthening the smoke free message

Western Sydney Institute of TAFE's Louise Turnbull, Nepean Hospital's Smoke Free Committee Chair Clair Ramsden, NBMLHD CEO Kay Hyman and Mayor Ross Fowler with members of the Smoke Free Committee.
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Ahead of Sunday’s World No Tobacco Day, Penrith’s public institutions made a united stand against smoking in public places earlier today.

Smoke free environments have been established at the Nepean Hospital, Western Sydney Institute of TAFE and Penrith City Council facilities, who all joined forces at the Nepean Hospital to raise awareness of the areas.

Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District’s CEO Kay Hyman said smoking is a major health concern to the hospital’s visitors and as a result staff will be able to issue fines to those caught smoking on hospital grounds.

“We have been implementing a program of educating our staff, visitors and patients about not smoking on our hospital grounds,” she said.

“Training of hospital staff to issue fines that will be enforced by the State Debt Recovery office is also underway.

“Our message could not be clearer – it is against the law to smoke anywhere on hospital grounds and fines of up to $300 apply.”

Penrith Mayor Ross Fowler said all Council facilities including playgrounds have a smoke free policy, and although they don’t have a fines attached there is a possibility to do so in the future.

“Council has adopted the stance to educate the community rather than fine and we are seeing smokers doing the right thing voluntarily,” he said.

“Fines are a last resort, but there’s empirical evidence that smoking is bad for you so maybe you’ve got to be unkind to be kind in some respects.”

Education campuses such as the University of Western Sydney and Western Sydney TAFE are joining the initiative, and Western Sydney TAFE’s Manager of Workforce Capability Louise Turnbull said both the Nepean and Penrith TAFE Campuses are already smoke free.

“It’s really important not just for staff but for students to promote a smoke free culture… We’ve got 50,000 students in the Western Sydney Institute so it’s really important that we model and encourage good and healthy behaviour around smoking,” she said.

The smoke free initiative is extending into hospitality, and from July 6, all commercial outdoor dining areas such as restaurants, clubs, and cafes will also be smoke free when serving food.

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