In the March Liverpool Council meeting, a motion was addressed regarding complaints from residents about the impact smoking had at Liverpoool’s Macquarie Mall.
The motion was carried to collate community feedback in the form of a survey to help council enforce action, whether that be to ban smoking in the area or to fine those who litter cigarette buds.
The CEO said that council did have the power to deem that area a non-smoking section but several councillors objected to the possibility.
Councillor Tony Hadchiti said it could have a bad impact on business.
“I smoke, but putting that aside, to ban smoking would be bad for business. Parramatta did it and there was an uproar. I think the intentions were good but smokers contribute a lot of money to taxes,” Councillor Hadchiti said.
“The mall should be a place for everybody. If we go down this path, we're going to have to make a decision that's not going to work. But I think we should put ash trays in the mall. The other concern was, outdoor areas across the whole LGA have smoking permitted. Why are we targeting mall owners?”
Councillor Gus Balloot was also against the possibility of a ban.
"I don't smoke but for many people out there, it's their time to out, to relax. This is not good for business. These family businesses don't need any more burden and pressure,” Councillor Balloot said.
“I have been self employed for over 35 years and will always support small business. Small business play a very important part in our local economy and provide employment. Smokers are part of our society and have already been ostracized enough by non-smokers. It’s not illegal to smoke, therefore small businesses should have the right to decide whether they allow smokers in their establishment or not.
“If people don't want to sit with them, it's their problem. I do no support this. Can't we do what Singapore does and fine those who litter?"
Meanwhile, Councillor Nathan Hagarty said there could also be an argument that to ban smoking could have a positive impact on businesses.
“By cracking down on smoking, perhasps we can do these businesses a favour. One of the reasons people don’t go there is because of the smoke. We’ll have more university students coming into the area but smoke is not going to help. I support this motion.”
Councillor Charishma took a neutral stance on the problem.
“Despite the discussion on the banning, the motion was about a survey so council could make a decision using community feedback. Council have received a lot of complaints from residents about this problem, but it’s a problem affecting all public outdoor areas across Liverpool. I think it’s important to ensure whatever decision council makes, that it be consistent,” she said.
We asked Liverpool CEO Kiersten Fishburn if she could confirm whether council did have the power to ban smoking at Macquarie Mall, following on from a statement made at the council meeting.
This was her response: “Councillors voted to obtain a report for a briefing session on Council’s legal powers on how smoking in Macquarie Mall might be regulated in the future. As part of this process, Council will conduct a community survey, seek feedback from business owners and the views of Council’s CBD Committee.”