Published on Jul 20, 2015

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The New South Wales Government’s new outdoor smoking bans mean businesses now run the risk of a $5,500 fine for patrons caught lighting up at the dinner table.

On Monday 6 July 2015 the Smoke-free Laws were extended to include a ban on smoking within four metres of a commercial outdoor dining area, in-line with the existing exclusion zone around public building pedestrian entries and exits.

In addition to making sure diners butt out, businesses are also required to display adequate ‘no-smoking’ signage in outdoor dining areas.

Cessnock City Council Economic Development Manager Jane Holdsworth said the new laws will impact a large swathe of businesses in Cessnock LGA.

“Our recent business capability study indicated we have more than 380 businesses operating in the accommodation and food sector,” said Jane.

“We hope the message to butt out has been received loud and clear across our LGA, and that our local businesses are clear on their responsibilities under the new legislation.

“The last thing we want to see is our hard working hospitality businesses slugged with avoidable fines.”

Health Minister Jillian Skinner said the shift in public attitudes to smoking supported stricter tobacco control in NSW, with a recent poll showing four out of five people in favour of the new smoking bans.

“In 2002, adult smoking rates were 22.5 per cent. Thanks to the comprehensive tobacco control program in NSW these rates have steadily declined over the past decade,” Mrs Skinner said.

“The NSW Government has gone to great lengths to protect people from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke by making a number of outdoor places smoke-free since 2013.”


What it means for businesses and patrons

Ignoring the new bans attracts some hefty penalties for those caught smoking – or businesses allowing patrons to smoke – within four metres of outdoor dining areas, including:

  • on the spot fines of $300 for individuals;
  • a fine of up to $550 for a business owner who does not display ‘no smoking’ signs in an outdoor dining area;
  • up to $5,500 for a business owner if a customer is found to be smoking in the outdoor dining area.

Many businesses created designated smoking areas in response to the Smoke-Free Environment Act 2000 which banned smoking within four metres of pedestrian entrances and exits to public buildings.

Whist there is an allowance under the new ban for designated smoking areas within cafes, restaurants, and licenced premises; businesses are advised to check the suitability of their existing arrangements to ensure they are compliant with tighter restrictions.


More information

The Smoke-free Environment Act 2000 is enforced by NSW Health’s Tobacco Enforcement Unit. To find out more about the new and existing outdoor smoking bans read this fact sheet, or visit