31 May 2017

It’s not every day an iconic musician makes a comment about legislation, but Midnight Oil’s Rob Hirst has done just that, on the 10th anniversary of smoking bans in licensed venues in NSW.

Speaking on World No Tobacco Day, the artist said smoking bans had made a huge difference to his life as a performer.

“Before pub smoking bans were finally introduced it was cruel: trying to sing, breathe and play, night after night, in air opaque with tobacco smoke. Hell for us asthmatics!” Hirst said.

“Our clothes stunk, our throats and lungs filled with tar and ash. Unpleasant. Unhealthy. Unmusical. Unsustainable.”

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry said she was proud to hear of Hirst’s support for smoking bans and glad he’d shared his story.

The Smoke-free Environment Act 2000 initially applied only to enclosed public spaces such as restaurants, shopping centres, cinemas and community halls. The law was then extended in 2007 to include all indoor licensed venues and followed similar smoking bans in Ireland, Norway and Scotland.

“The legislative amendments changed the environments that so many people spend time in - whether it’s to socialise, enjoy a drink, or watch a live band,” Dr Chant said.

“People under the age of 28 won’t remember how smoky some licensed venues were before the bans were in place - putting health at risk from heavy levels of second- hand smoke.

“It’s particularly significant to mark this anniversary on World No Tobacco Day – which celebrates initiatives to reduce smoking.”

Tobacco smoking remains the leading preventable cause of illness and death in Australia.

“NSW smoking rates are gradually declining - they’ve fallen five per cent since 2007. But challenges still remain in some sectors of the community,” Dr Chant said.

“NSW Health will continue to work on reducing smoking rates, particularly when it comes to smoking levels in Aboriginal communities and among people with mental illness or a drug dependency.”

NSW Health has invested in major policy and program efforts to reduce smoking, such as Quitline and the smoke-free laws - that now also cover outdoor public spaces, as well as laws that regulate the sale and display of tobacco products.

For further details about tobacco control in NSW, visit Tobacco and smoking control in NSW page.

For support to quit smoking, visit www.iCanQuit.com.au