6 September, 2015. 13:04
ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact
[dropcap]P[/dropcap]ICKING THROUGH HIS discarded prawn shells as he contemplates another glass of rosé, Sydney investment banker Martin Campbell-Green knows deep down that all he wants after a delightful seafood lunch beside the harbour – is a cigarette. After eating and smoking were divorced in pubs, cafes and restaurants in NSW over a month ago, tobacco lovers have been banished to the darkest corners of establishments in order to feed their lungs.
“It’s not fair,” says Martin. “Me and my friends have been smoking in this beer garden for over 20 years.”
The 47-year-old semi retired banker agrees that smokers should have more rights, as it’s their choice to smoke. Smoking areas are sacred sites to the nation’s smokers and it seems they won’t be giving them up without a fight.
“I can empathise with Aboriginals now. It’s horrible having your land taken from you,” he added. “My grandfather sat in this very beer garden on VJ Day and enjoyed a cigar, as did my father when they toppled that tub-of-lard socialist Whitlam in ’75 . It’s 2015 and I can’t even enjoy a cigarette with my Sydney rock oysters?”
Mr Campbell-Green’s opinions aren’t dissimilar to others around Australia. Many other smokers have come forward in unified opposition on these new anti-smoking measures. Protests have been organised for Sydney and Dubbo next month as hundreds of well-to-do cigarette enthusiasts plan to take to the streets to voice their disapproval with the government.
On the contrary, the prime minister has hit back at smokers, saying that it’s a lifestyle choice and that the federal and state governments weren’t going to fund it anymore.
“Smoking-related deaths account for more than a third of all deaths in Australia,” said Mr Abbott. “It’s a massive drain on our healthcare system and it gives you bad breath.”
Both parties have agreed that more needs to be done to find an agreement on the matter – but when the dialogue will open again is anyone’s guess.