Program losing its puff

Therese ColmanThe West Australian

Despite a roll-out of smoke-free- zone signage along Margaret River’s main street, shop owners and retail workers say the Shire program has made little difference.

In September last year, the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River council voted for a smoke-free campaign for Margaret River’s main street, led by then deputy Shire president Kylie Kennaugh.

The move included information kits and posters for local businesses, and signs on main street bins.

The smoke-free zone did not include a legal smoke ban or fines enforcement.

Shire corporate and community services director Annie Riordan said no formal review of the impact program had taken place.

“While no formal review has been conducted, feedback received about the initiative has been very positive,” she said.

A big number of main street businesses declined to comment on the smoke-free zone or were not aware of the campaign when the Times dropped in during recent weeks. A local retail worker, who wished not to be named, said the program was a flop.

“I’ve noticed that many of the people continuing to smoke on the main street are tourists, and it’s not surprising that they light up,” she said. “The signs are not that obvious. I myself barely see the signs, so I assume they haven’t either. I notice the biggest problem is with smokers outside of take-away places. A few people light up while waiting for their food.”

Margaret River Chamber of Commerce president Steven Castan said the Shire campaign was a joint initiative with the chamber and he believed the campaign was successful.

“The smoke-free suggestion and signage is a great awareness campaign and we have not received any negative feedback or backlash from main-street traders in terms of it affecting trade adversely,” he said.

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