Amendments to the Smoke-free Environment Act 2000 (NSW) took effect on 6 July 2015 banning smoking in “a place that is within 4 metres of a pedestrian access point to a building… (containing) licensed premises or a restaurant…” and in “a commercial outdoor dining area”. This is of importance especially to mixed use strata buildings, thus strata managers, building managers and Executive Committees should be aware of the changes.
A ban on smoking within 4 metres of a pedestrian entrance to, or exit from, a public building was already in place in NSW. However, it has now been extended to licensed premises (including clubs and hotels), restaurants and cafés, and all commercial outdoor dining areas. Smoking is also restricted on any footpath area that is licensed from Council as a “seating area”, if that area falls within the “4 metre law” or is an outdoor dining area.
Mandatory prescribed ‘no smoking’ signage must be displayed within an outdoor dining area in accordance with NSW Health’s signage guidelines, but not otherwise (i.e. not simply because the building contains a restaurant that does not have an outdoor area).
On the spot fines of $300 may be enforced against individuals caught smoking in a prescribed ‘smoke free’ area. A fine of up to $550 may be imposed against a business owner who does not display the required ‘no smoking’ signage. Penalties of up to $5,500 can be imposed against business owners where a customer is caught smoking in a prescribed ‘smoke free’ area.
Building owners should ensure that any ‘no smoking’ signage rules applying are complied with, and enforce the restriction on smoking within 4 metres of the entrance or exit to the building. For smoking within lots, the penalties do not extend directly to a building owner if they are not the party that has the “management or control” of the premises but periodical checks and audits of lots owners’ and tenants’ operations would be prudent to ensure that lot owners and tenants are complying with (and properly enforcing) the relevant requirements and avoid any ramifications for building owners that knowingly allow breaches to occur and persist.
Stratas or relevant bodies with employees should also keep the above in mind in the contact of Workplace Health & Safety requirements, for providing a safe work environment.