As a lover of alfresco dining, I'm appalled that smokers are given the best seats in the house in summer. I want to reclaim this area for families and those that enjoy a smoke free environment. So what are some possible solutions?
1) As a trial Melbourne City Council should enforce a no smoking zone down the famous Lygon Street strip and ban outdoor smoking. Those that don't comply could have their permit for outdoor seating revoked. Quite a heavy handed approach here, and I'm not sure the council has the politcal will take on restaurant owners and their buddies in the hotel industry.
2) Provide discount outdoor seating permits to restaurants that don't allow smoking outdoors. Melbourne City Council should consider providing incentives to encourage restaurants to follow a no outdoor smoking policy.
3) Allow outdoor smoking, but enforce mechanical ventilation of these outdoor areas. That way restaurants that make the choice not to allow outdoor smoking, don't have to worry about smoke drifting into their zone by neighbouring restaurants. I consider this approach to be very pragmatic and encourages restaurants to take responsibility for allowing certain actions that affect others. The biggest challenge here is finding a technical solution that will work.
4) Go for a statewide ban on smoking at restaurants. Something I believe is inevitable but will take time.