Smoking banned completely from railway stations and tram platform stops from 1st March

From next Saturday, 1st of March, smoking will be banned from the entirety of all railway stations and tram platform stops.

The new arrangements will extend the existing smoke-free zones, which currently only include covered areas of railway platforms and inside covered tram and bus shelters.

“Extending smoke-free areas is good news for public transport passengers and supports other government initiatives that aim to reduce the impact of tobacco and second-hand smoke on the community,” Mr Mulder said.

Government press release

I think this is a good move.

Some people are saying it won’t work, because there’ll be little enforcement. I’m not sure I agree with that. It’s rare to see smoking inside of public transport vehicles, despite little enforcement.

The problem with the current smoking ban in covered areas is that signage is rare, and often so small it’s almost impossible to see — for instance:

Smoking in a bus shelter

The key will be properly promoting the ban, including news coverage (which in evidence today) and much more prominent signage. Enforcement can back these up, but fundamentally if people know the ban exists, I expect in time most will respect it.

I haven’t noticed any in the wild yet, but here’s what the poster for railway stations looks like. Leaving aside the way they’ve mixed their tenses, hopefully signage will be just as prominent on tram stops, and will be improved at bus stops.

Smoke Free poster for railway stations

There is a possible caveat however: it’s unclear if it applies to tram stops which are accessible, but not via a platform — this means Easy Access Stops, including the stops along Swanston Street. And the publicity indicates the ban doesn’t include non-covered areas of bus and non-platform tram stops.

This bill from November 2012 appears to indicate the original intention was a complete ban within 4 metres of any railway station, tram or bus stop, ferry/punt landing or taxi rank (unless just passing by). Maybe any lawyers reading can advise on the status of those clauses.

Update 23/2/2014: Thanks to Mark (see comments), who checked and found the bill above was defeated. Kind of a shame, but perhaps it was scene as not clear enough where the smoke ban would take effect.

In any case, hopefully the change will mean an end to that super annoying habit of some smokers (you know the type) exhaling from their extinguished cigarette after they board the train.

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20 thoughts on “Smoking banned completely from railway stations and tram platform stops from 1st March

  1. Yes, it’s a smart move. There are people who enter a train carriage reeking of smoke. Yuk! Hopefully, the new law will mean that they will have butted out earlier and don’t stink as much.
    I reckon enforcement will be next to zero, but most people will do the right thing

  2. Daniel, it appears that the bill you linked to was actually defeated in Parliament (although you wouldn’t know it from Austlii).

    The actual reforms can be viewed here: http://www.legislation.vic.gov.au/Domino/Web_Notes/LDMS/PubStatbook.nsf/b05145073fa2a882ca256da4001bc4e7/3BF75FD9BC136F2ECA257C6E000F1211/$FILE/14-001srbookmarked.pdf

    ‘Designated area’ refers to:

    (a) an area of land or an area within premises owned or occupied by a passenger transport company that is designated by the passenger transport company by means of signs in or near the area as an area for entry to which a ticket valid for that entry is required; or

    (b) if a railway station is specified by the Secretary in a notice published in the Government Gazette as a station to which this paragraph applies—

    (i) a platform at that station;

    (ii) a waiting room or area adjoining a platform from which the platform can be accessed without the need to pass a ticket validating machine, a smartcard reader or a ticket barrier;

    (iii) an area between a platform and any ticket validating machine, smartcard reader or ticket barrier that it is necessary to pass to gain access to the platform;

    Therefore it appears that the ‘four metre rule’ is not in effect.

  3. I suspect the issue is that it would be difficult for a government agency to ban a legal activity in an area that it neither owns nor controls.

    If I read the regulations correctly, smoking is now banned:
    * in rolling stock (presumably including buses)
    * a tram or bus stop shelter *provided it is public transport property* (presumably the shelter, not the land, though this is not clear from the regulations). Aren’t many of the shelters at stops owned by an advertising company?
    * a train platform (which does not seem to be defined anywhere)
    * a designated area, which must be a validated ticket area, or at a declared station: a platform, a waiting room or area outside the ticket machines but adjoining the platform, and any space between the ticket machines and the platform. Who has a list of declared stations?
    * a tram platform, provided it doesn’t form part of the road (to exclude stops like Macarthur St where the platform is the road).

    Perfectly clear now?

    The Regulations are quite amusing… I wonder how many other laws *still* mention penny farthing bicycles? And that scooters and tricycles are defined to be simultaneously both a vehicle and not a vehicle :-)

  4. The thing is, it’s never usually passengers I see smoking at tram stops – it’s yarra trams authorized officers. who also do the thing where they exhale right before getting on the tram after leaving the cigarette butt at the stop.

  5. Here’s a good site for the current (not including Victoria’s impending changes) state of play across states:
    http://www.tobaccoinaustralia.org.au/15-7-legislation

    I can’t believe that Victoria is so far behind us in Queensland on this (some would say its one of the few things they are behind us on but I digress!)

    We have been smoke free since 2005 effectively with changes rolling out over about 5 years in total.

    The above site talks about banning smoking at Public Transport points from 1 January 2010 but as an ex smoker it seems like it was much earlier than that – and certainly inside trains/buses seems to have been since 2005 or even earlier.

    I remember traveling in Vic and NSW and being amazed (even as a smoker) at seeing people smoking inside shopping centres – I could not bring myself to do it, it felt so foreign. So hopefully people will come to terms with it and get used to the changes quickly – but undoubtedly there will be the usual idiots who don’t think they have any obligation to the general public and will continue to smoke wherever they feel like it…

  6. Being someone who hates tobacco smoke, I say this is good news.

    Having said that, there needs to be somewhere at which people who want to smoke could smoke.

  7. @Randall, Victoria banned smoking within PT vehicles in the 70s. I’d be surprised if other states didn’t do it around that time as well.

    @TranzitJim, people can continue to smoke, outside stations.

  8. I hope this has the desired effect, but at Hughesdale and South Yarra plenty of people still smoke under the covered area.
    You are correct about the poor signage – at Hughesdale there is one small no smoking sign but unless you are looking at the ceiling above the myki ticket machines you wouldn’t see it. I have often contemplated asking people who are smoking where they shouldn’t be to move into the open part of the platform – but I haven’t yet as I’m not certain I’d get a good reception (though I do ask people sitting on the train to give their seats to elderly or disabled passengers and usually have some success).

  9. Does anybody else remember what it was like before the first smoking bans at railway stations came into effect in 2006? Before then the only smoke-free areas were waiting rooms at premium stations, and inside City Loop stations.

    The concourse at Flinders Street used to be awful as it’s mostly enclosed and was full of smokers, with rail staff (particularly train drivers) being some of the worst offenders. Enclosed stations like Box Hill used to be bad too.

  10. This is a very sensible set of rules. I grew up in Melbourne, but for the last two decades have avoided trams other than the 109 because of the smoke, which I am sensitive to (supposedly due to passive smoking as an infant). It has always been much worse on trams because it was usually impossible to move away from a smoker in the old narrow “safety” zones. A bus stop is different, because you can step back or move along the footpath. The new raised stops are sort of in between. I think the new rules are appropriate.

    I think the “Easy Access Stop” is more like a bus stop, so will be OK for me.

    Enforcement is going to be a problem. Several months ago there was a guy smoking at a suburban station where there happened to be a Metro staff member in attendance. I asked the staff member to get the guy to stop, and suggested a fine was in order. He said he couldn’t fine the guy, but he did get him to stop.

    The CBD area has a serious passive smoking problem – it’s almost unbearable during weekdays. I find it a bit rich, actually, that I’m being asked to subsidise transport to a place where I could never tolerate living or working. I would vote for roads over rail – all because of smoking, and even though I live within walking distance to a station and do use the trains.

  11. So for Bentleigh station, will the smokers now use the entry ramp for their final puff, before rushing for the train. That could be worse than the current situation, where they are spread out along the platform & can be given a wide berth.

  12. @Charlotte “The thing is, it’s never usually passengers I see smoking at tram stops – it’s yarra trams authorized officers”

    This! Add to that Metro inspectors, PSOs and the Ventura drivers I’ve seen on routes 705 and 709 out of Mordialloc. Every single one of them littered the butts despite being within a metre or two of a bin.

    The Metro fine for generic littering is $212 (http://www.transport.vic.gov.au/services/fines)

    City of Melbourne fine for dropping a cigarette butt is a minimum $289, probably same elsewhere (http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/FORRESIDENTS/STREETCLEANINGANDGRAFFITI/Pages/Cigarettebutts.aspx)

    Would love to see any of the above cop a littering fine!

  13. Now follow up legislation banning smoking within 500 m of a station entrance is required to stop the congregation effect. Nobody wants to walk past a whole bunch of smokers in the morning.

  14. When the general smoking ban came in in England in 2007, it included all covered places with more than two walls. However – and in this content it’s a big “however” – the railways chose to extend that ban to ALL railway owned land, including open platforms. Only once in the years since have I ever seen anyone smoking on a station platform and that includes plenty of unstaffed stations.

    Around the entrances to stations is more of a problem…….but not nearly so much, as I’m discovering at the moment, as it is around the entrances to HOSPITALS. Yes, HOSPITALS! I bet that’s one problem you don’t have there.

    Anyway, I’m surprised that there hasn’t been a ban there on all railway property for years. I was astonished when I first came to Australia with at pubs and RSL clubs could function with smoking banned. Now it seems the most normal thing in the world.

  15. I am a smoker, I smoke away from everybody and in the open. I know some people hate smokers but it seems you are being discriminating against those who do smoke and catch public transport.

  16. We may be different and smoke but we deserve the same courtesy and service that we pay for. If I am on the train and someone does not like the smell, I did not ask them to stand there, it was their choice? Not my problem, deal with it.

  17. I myself am a smoker and I respect this new rule/law. I was only alerted about this new law today on a horrible start to a Monday morning, I was having a smoke before my train came on the platform wich was not undercover, unaware of this new rule and shortly after I was approached by a ticket inspector who pretty much gave me a fine (he said it may be a warning but I know how that all works, they said that one time ago when I forgot to touch on and copped a massive fine) So I understand if I was breaking the law but the fact that these signs were not advitised ANWHERE in view nor anywhere in the station, im left extremely angry and think the way they handled it was absolutely ridiculous and completely unjust !!!!

  18. This is a legal substance and these people pay more tax than anyone else IN THE COUNTRY and should be treated with the same respect as everybody else. Its a proven fact that passively breathing in the carcinogens in car fuel causes more respritory problems than the odd whiff of second hand smoke. And 99 out if 100 smokers are conciencious and couteous when it comes to smoking in public places. Its time to time target the real problems that are causing health issues. Smoking and smokers have been a scapegoat for too long. And I implore people to stop believing the exaggerated information that is just an excuse for blatant discrimination against a minority of people. So the real powers at be can continue there quest for the biggest motivator. Greed and money. When will people wake up? Smokers are not the problem people should be targeting so viciously.

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