Victorian Greens amendments to the Andrews Government's new smoking laws have passed the upper house, adding pressure to calls for a government rethink.
The successful Greens amendments change the definition of tobacco product to include waterpipes. The effect of this would be that waterpipes, also known as hookah or shisa, would be subject to similar laws as cigarettes, meaning they can no longer be smoked indoors or in outdoor dining areas in public places, such as bars and restaurants.
This comes after calls for this reform from the Australian Lebanese Medical Association, Australian Iraqi Council – Victoria, Afghan Australian Association of Victoria, Pakistan Medical Community, Arabic Welfare, Hellenic Medical Society Australia, and the Iraqi Kaldonian Association of Victoria.
“All Victorians deserve protections from the harms of smoking. Workers and patrons of middle eastern bars and restaurants should have the same rights to a healthy work and play environment as those in venues,” said Colleen Hartland, Victorian Greens Spokesperson for Health.
“In recent years Turkey, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon have banned waterpipe use in public venues or restaurants, yet the Andrews Government is still claiming cultural reasons are behind its failure to make this change,”
“The Victorian Government has failed Victorians on this issue, so we have been forced to act. We hope Dan Andrews will now listen to the affected communities and the will of the parliament and pass this reform.”
“The Andrews Government had a clear opportunity for change on waterpipes and instead they have left us lagging behind the rest of Australia as the only state that allows waterpipe smoking indoors in bars and restaurants,”
“We understand that consultation and assistance will need to be provided to bars and restaurants that will be affected by this change. We are calling on the Andrews Government to get on with it so that the health and quitting benefits of smoking reforms can flow to these communities as soon as possible,” said Ms Hartland.