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.

Are mobile phones the new cigarettes?

Fifty years ago the people waiting on this bench might have been smoking — now they’re all fiddling with their phones.

Ripponlea station

It’s long been thought that mobile phones might be replacing cigarettes:

Teenagers may be getting healthier because mobile phones are replacing cigarettes as a symbol of rebellion and fashion.

Clive Bates, Ash director, suggested that the need to stay in fashion by owning a phone may mean less money is available to pay for cigarettes.

– BBC, November 2000

This Age article from 2005 suggested the same thing.

I’m pondering other links:

Phones, like cigarettes, give you something to do with your hands, something to fiddle with.

Phones, like cigarettes, are social. Instead of standing around in doorways chatting to fellow smokers, you’re talking to your friends via social media — wherever they are.

Phones, like cigarettes, can be invasive if used thoughtlessly in a group of people (though having to listen to someone’s boring conversation is less unhealthy and unpleasant than secondhand smoke).

I’d love to reach some profound conclusion here, but that’s all I’ve got. Thoughts?

Some tobacconists are Myki retailers. Should they be?

I suppose trains need signals. And perhaps it’s another move to make Melbourne more European: this Cignall tobacconist in Queen Street is a Myki retailer.

Myki retailer in Queen Street: Cignall Tobacconist

I’m not sure I have a strong opinion on this, but it does seem like an odd match, given smoking is banned on public transport vehicles, is also banned in the undercover areas of stations and stops, and is generally frowned-upon these days.

It may give off mixed messages, having a shop whose primary business is selling smoking products also sell Myki cards and do topups. Are the Transport Ticketing Authority and the government really happy with this association?

There is a convenience store across the street, and a newsagent a few doors up (the latter open weekdays only I think) that could have served as Myki retailers in the immediate vicinity. As it is, according to the online locator tool, the nearest existing Myki retailers are each half-a-block away: a 7-11 in one direction, and a street kiosk in the other.

(Anybody know if other Cignall outlets are also Myki retail agents?)

Down down, smoking is down

Excellent. Smoking rates are continuing to drop, from 21.2% in 1998 down to 15.3% now.

So, how about the next step, government? Now that smoking is almost entirely banned indoors, what about extending smoking bans to include all undercover areas — I’m thinking particularly of under shop awnings.

(If I ran the world, I’d be looking at smoking bans in highly trafficked outdoor areas, such as CBD and suburban shopping centre footpaths. And the following step might be banning it everywhere except in private homes and designated smoking rooms/areas. It’s one thing to have a bad habit; it’s another to have a bad habit that blows poisonous fumes into others’ faces.)

The health check

Apparently there have been some alarming results from the workplace health checks underway at the moment.

Victorian workers have been given a scare by a State Government-run health program which has found a high percentage don’t exercise enough with a number of people asked to see a doctor within 24 hours.

We’ve had ours on Friday (everybody opted-in, I think), and we seem to be a pretty healthy workplace.

At least, nobody’s been carted off in an ambulance.

My own results were all okay, with one exception.

Some of the points are self-assessment; others like cholesterol were checked by the nurse on the spot. I’ve summarised the take-home brochure, and my results below.

Diet

2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables (per day) should be your target

I’m on 3 serves of fruit, and 2 of vegetables, so need to increase my vegetable intake. It was noted that a variety is good. I probably eat more spinach leaves than most, as I know the kids will chow them down.

In all honesty, I’m not sure how achievable 5 serves of vegies per day is for me, but I can try.

Drinking

I barely drink (perhaps a one standard drink per month if I’m lucky), and the nurse decided this was closer to no alcohol of the three options on the questionnaire.

I’ve never drunk a lot; it’s reduced even more since the cluster headaches arrived on the scene, as alcohol can help induce them (though just at the moment they’re not around).

Phsyical activity

Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most, preferably all days

I might not play sport, but I do a fair bit of walking. It’s generally three 30 minute walks a week with the kids, and one or two 60+ minute walks with Marita and her dog on the weekends. Add to that the shorter walks to/from the train each weekday (12 minutes x 2 x 5, though no doubt that doesn’t have the same benefits of the longer walks), that’s 270-330 minutes of walking per week, or at least 38 minutes a day.

So I think that’s fine.

Smoking

There is no safe level of smoking

No problemo. Never smoked, sure as hell not about to start.

Body shape

Normal — Men: 94 cm or less. Women: 80 cm or less

I’m 86 cm, have been since I was a skinny yoof. Do have a little bit of a pot belly, but nothing major.

Blood pressure

Normal — Less than 120/80

The brochure explains that the first value is systolic — the pressure in the arteries as your heart squeezes blood out during each beat. The other is diastolic — the pressure as your heart relaxes before the next beat.

Mine’s a little high: 113/83. On this basis there’s a recommendation to review it when I next see my doctor, but the nurse emphasised that there’s no real problem.

This seems higher than usual for me. Normally when I give blood it’s lower — it was 117/76 the last time I noted it in my blog. In fact this time round the nurse thought it might be unusual and did an average out of four readings.

Cholesterol

Normal — Total cholesterol 5.5 or less, HDL cholesterol 1.0 or more

Mine is 4.8 total, and 1.8 HDL, so that’s good.

Diabetes risk

Diabetes risk score — low risk: 5 or less. Medium risk 6-14. High risk 15 or more
Random blood glucose levels — normal: less than 6.5. High 6.5 or more

My diabetes risk score is 2 points for my age, 3 points for my sex (that would be male), and 3 points because someone in my family has it — my Dad has type 2. So 8 points makes me a medium risk for diabetes, and worth reviewing with my doctor at some stage.

My blood glucose level was 5.4, in the normal range.

Overall then

I’ll enquire about blood pressure and diabetes risk, the former isn’t a big problem at present, and the latter I can’t really do much about other than keep up the exercise and improve the diet.

I suppose there’s no big surprises for me in all this, but in terms of preventative health measures, I can see how this kind of far-reaching basic health check might help others to think about their lifestyle choices and modify them if possible.

And of course it’s only a fairly superficial check. I’ve still got headaches, Bowen Belly (much less so recently) and other minor ailments which hit me from time to time.

Anybody else do the check? Any surprises?

It’s just not that hard

It’s just not that hard to stub out that cigarette when you get rid of it, rather than chucking it on the ground.

It’s just not that hard to look at the lights outside the lift when it arrives. If the top light is on, it’s going up. If the bottom light is on, it’s going down.

It’s just not that hard to leave a message on the voicemail when you ring, rather than making me guess who it was.

It’s just not that hard to look and see if the dome light on the taxi is lit up before waving frantically at it.

It’s just not that hard to switch off the phone diversion when you move into my old desk, so I don’t get your calls. Especially when I left a PostIt note mentioning I’d done it.

It’s just not that hard to use your indicator.

It’s just not that hard to put your litter in a bin.

It’s just not that hard to stand aside to prevent delaying others if you’re going nowhere.

The Dumbarse, in three acts

Act 1: He went to stand between the carriages for a smoke. (It was a Hitachi. Very retro.) It should be pointed out that this doesn’t stop the smoke smell drifting through the carriages, though obviously it’s better than doing it in the carriage. Apart from the fact that smoking anywhere is dangerous for your health, the last time I saw something like this attempted, the half-a-dozen undercover Authorised Officers in the carriage that I had clocked when I boarded the train wasted no time in moving in to fine the person.

Act 2: “Does this train go to Richmond?” Someone pointed out, possibly without trying to smirk, that we’d just a minute ago gone past Richmond. Australia is said to have a 99% literacy rate, and those new signs on the stations are fairly readable, so the chances are this guy had nobody to blame but himself for not paying attention.

Act 3: Upon arrival at the next station, Flinders Street, did he bother to look at the platform display to see where the train would go next? No. I did glance at it. It was headed straight back to Richmond. He instead headed across the concourse to some other platform — I think it may even have been 4+5, one of four platforms where none of the trains departing go to Richmond.

Dumbarse.