Shaping our city

Butt out in Bourke Street: Melbourne’s new smoke-free zone

3 October 2019

Breathe easy in Bourke Street Mall – Melbourne’s newest outdoor smoke-free area.

The new smoke-free area between Elizabeth Street and Russell Place is part of our commitment to protect people from passive smoking and create a healthy environment for the mall’s 60,000 daily visitors.

The ban follows extensive consultation with more than 3000 people and 160 businesses, where 83 per cent of respondents supported Bourke Street becoming smoke-free.

What’s more, the majority of smokers were not only open to the ban – two out of five told us the smoke-free area would encourage them to quit. To find out more about the community consultation, visit Participate.

We’re also working with stakeholders including Quit Victoria to support anyone who wants to quit or cut back, and engaging with local universities to help students understand the changes and make healthy choices.

Did you know
Every year, about 4000 Victorians die from smoking-related illnesses. Our economy also loses more than $2 billion through healthcare costs and lost productivity.

To celebrate the new smoke-free area, we commissioned artist Ulla Taylor from Zest Events International to create a mural on the Bourke Street Mall visitor information booth.

Her unique design – featuring plants, animals and a rib cage – was painted, printed on a banner 25 times the original size and further enhanced with hand-painted details.

‘The first impression should evoke the urge to fill your lungs with air, as the overall message is “breathe easy”,’ Ulla said.

‘I have used imagery imbued with the bright freshness of Melbourne springtime, which includes iconic, native, flora and fauna such as pink heath and a helmeted honeyeater – two of our State emblems.

‘Art is intriguing, the manual process of creation can captivate; but also by using a range of conceptual symbology, people can overlay their own emotions or thought patterns, which can make the message more meaningful.’

Fast facts
As well as Bourke Street, there are 10 more smoke-free areas within the municipality, including laneways and running tracks. Smoking is also banned in outdoor dining areas under State Government legislation.

The fine for smoking in a smoke-free area is $100. People found littering cigarette butts anywhere in the city face heavier fines: $330 for an unlit butt and $660 for a lit butt.

Having been a pavement artist – or ‘screever’ – in Melbourne for more than 30 years, Ulla is proud to be part of this special street-art project.

‘Encouragement by the City to permit pavement art all those years ago was a catalyst for the growth of all street arts in the central city,’ Ulla said.

‘However, under our permit system the pavement artists are not allowed to use the Bourke Street Mall. So it gives me quite a buzz to be painting in the mall, although it’s not as a screever this time.

‘I’m working with the support of Council and an expert project manager at Zest Events International, which enables a humble artist to work bigger, bolder and more confidently than when I work solo.’

To find out more, visit Smoking and tobacco.

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