Four flout fag laws
U N D E R C O V E R ‘smoking officers’ have nabbed four of the region’s pubs and clubs for blatantly flouting the State Government’s anti-smoking laws.
As a result the local branch of Queensland Health is considering prosecution, which could lead to fines of up to $10,000.
The names of the businesses will not be released.
John Piispanen of North Queensland Tropical Population Health Network said some premises had encouraged people to smoke in areas which were non-smoking.
‘‘We are currently looking at four clubs in the Townsville region to decide whether we will p r o s e c u t e , ’ ’ M r Piispanen said.
‘‘If patrons do light up in the wrong place then you would expect someone (who works there) to say you can’t smoke there and give them other options.
‘‘We will be alleging (the premises in question) allowed people to s mo k e w h e n t h e y shouldn’t.
‘‘To merely turn a blind eye or to encourage people to smoke in the wrong spot will lead to potential outcomes including being bought before a magistrate.’’
He said officers had undertaken a massive 1270 inspections of pubs and clubs during the tobacco enforcement phase from October 1 to November 30.
‘‘As a result of that we issued Prescribed Infringement Notices (PINS) to six people where they should not have been smoking . . . of a $150 fine.
‘‘Four premises are subject to further investigations, where we are alleging they have allowed people to smoke where they should not.
‘‘We need to keep in perspective that we spent the three months prior to October (2006) working with these businesses to make sure they understood the laws and put in place the practices that they needed to . . . and all that effort resulted in such a successful enforcement stage.’’
He said the education and active enforcement phase was now complete.
‘‘There are now authorised officers throughout Queensland who go to places well after midnight even until 2am to 3am,’’ he said.
‘‘Officers will be out making surveillance at any time that these businesses are open in a covert or overt roles.’’
He said officers go into clubs and act as patrons: ‘‘We like to keep an air of uncertainty out there. We could be there at any time and we will be taking action. If you do the wrong thing you run the risk of getting fined.’’
Mr Piispanen said the Townsville region enforcement officers covered north to Ingham, south to Bowen and west to Mount Isa.