SMOKERS believe calls for a CBD smoking ban would strip them of their legal right to light up, arguing car exhaust fumes are more harmful than second-hand smoke.
North Wagga resident Ronny Pullen believes the controversial proposal, headed by Wagga City councillor Greg Conkey, is “appalling”.
“In the main street in Wagga, there’s cars bumper to bumper and when they’re sitting idle, it (exhaust) is flying everywhere,” Mr Pullen said. “There’s very, very few smokers walking up and down the street with a cigarette in their hand so there’s no comparison, absolutely no comparison.”
While Mr Pullen agreed with prohibiting smoking indoors, but taking it outside was a step too far.
“Smokers really don’t have any rights at all, they have absolutely nothing,” he said.
“You’re treated as a leper.”
But Cancer Council NSW (CCNSW) maintains the risk of vehicle emissions is low compared to second-hand smoke.
CCNSW tobacco control manager Scott Walsberger, said there was conclusive evidence that shows exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke causes cancer and that there is no safe level of exposure.
Non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke have a 31 per cent greater risk of lung cancer than non-smokers who haven’t been exposed.
While Mr Walsberger confirmed diesel engine exhaust was carcinogenic to humans, the extent of exposure required to cause damage was not known.
Mr Walsberger threw his support behind the proposal, adding that second-hand smoke caused one in 10 smoking-related deaths and two-thirds of the NSW community avoided places where they would be exposed to other peoples’ cigarette smoke.
“(We) know that smoking bans are effective in reducing peoples’ exposure to second-hand smoke, reducing smoking experimentation and uptake by youth, and making quitting and staying quit easier due to research around the implantation of these tobacco control polices,” Mr Walsberger said.
Locals have until September 7 to submit their thoughts on the proposal to introduce a 12-month trial ban, with the majority of comments on the Your Say Wagga website backing Cr Conkey’s initiative.
“I’m encouraged by the response from the non-smokers,” Cr Conkey said.
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