SIX months since tighter smoking restrictions were rolled out across Wagga pubs, cafes and restaurants, owners have flashed it a resounding thumbs up.
Since July last year, smoking has been banned in commercial outdoor dining areas during hours food is being served, as well as within four metres of entryways.
While owners at the time contended the changes would make life harder for smokers at some venues, majority predicted it would not affect business – and they were right.
The state government legislation coincided with Wagga City Councillor Greg Conkey calling for a smoke-free CBD, which was rejected by council and business heads.
William Farrer Hotel publican David Barnhill said the changes had not affected business because the pub had several designated smoking areas.
“Everyone has been pretty compliant,” he said.
“We try to cater for everyone. Who knows (if legislation will be tightened again), but it would be a sad day for smokers if it’s completely banned, especially if places are catering for them.”
It is a sentiment shared by Duke of Kent owner Jack Egan.
“I do support it,” he said.
“If you want to have a ciggie, go up the road. We also have a designated smoking area out the back.”
Cafes and their patrons have also embraced the crackdown.
“It hasn’t affected us,” Infuso owner Stewart Cook said of the Turvey Park cafe.
“We have a lot of elderly clientelle and we just kept warning them about the incoming legislation so it wasn’t sprung upon them.
“We’ve had great support. If people want to smoke they just pick themselves up and take themselves away.”
Locals accepting the changes is backed by statewide data.
According to NSW Health, 98 per cent of hospitality businesses with outdoor dining areas have complied with the ban.
It is a welcomed statistic to the perennial debate of harmful second-hand smoke versus a person’s civil right to light up.
“Our figures indicate that more than eight out of ten people, both smokers and non-smokers, support the ban,” executive director of the NSW Centre for Population Health, Dr Jo Mitchell, said.
Any venues who don’t comply face a $5500 fine and individuals will be dealt a $300 on-the-spot fine.