Thousands back CBD smoking ban

A FACEBOOK campaign to extend Launceston’s smoking ban in the CBD has garnered thousands of supporters.
Nanjing Night Net

Those behind the campaign say it’s not about smoking but ridding the antisocial behaviour happening outside their Brisbane Street store.

Watson’s Showcase Jewellers would like to see the Launceston City Council’s smoking ban extended from the Brisbane Street Mall to the smoke-free Quadrant Mall.

They said smoking bans in those malls had pushed groups engaged in antisocial behaviour to congregate outside their store where there are several public benches.

Store owner Neil Watson said the council pulled out one seat to dissuade groups from gathering but the tactic didn’t work.

He said his staff had been threatened when asking groups to move on and the environment had left customers intimidated.

“It’s not conducive to retailing, and we’re doing it tough enough at the moment,” he said.

The problem convinced Watson’s business manager Samantha Stevenson to take their beef online.

Ms Stevenson initially thought she’d struggle to get 100 likes.

More than 3000 “likes” and hundreds of signatures to a petition later, the issue has appeared to hit a nerve.

“It is not directed at youth or smokers, but the behaviours associated with the smoking area outside our shop,” the company posted on Facebook.

“We believe that removing an incentive for certain groups to congregate . . . will reduce the impact of behaviour currently imposed on our patrons and those passing by.”

Mr Watson said he regularly called the police to complain and had been in touch with Cityprom and the council.

“Banning smoking is the only option but it’s only going to move the problem,” he said.

The council said it would likely consider the proposal if retailers and Tasmania Police could provide evidence suggesting it was appropriate.

“As the petition itself points out, this is not simply a smoking issue. Expanding the smoke-free areas would not necessarily address the more complex issues behind antisocial behaviour in the CBD,” council general manager Robert Dobrzynski said.

Watson’s Showcase Jewellers business manager Samantha Stevens and owner Neil Watson are concerned about people congregating outside their Brisbane Street shop.

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