By THOMAS FITZGERALD.
Smokers have threatened to take their business elsewhere, after the Adelaide City Council approved a smoking ban for Rundle Mall.
The ban comes into force in July, and will grant the council the authority to fine anyone caught smoking in the mall.
Rundle Mall shopper Darryl Garner says the ban will harm shoppers, employees and businesses.
“We are paying customers, and they are trying to drive us away,” Mr Garner said.
“With a number of businesses already struggling to stay open, why alienate potential customers?”
Mr Garner says he would seriously consider leaving the mall.
He is not alone.
Retail employee Danielle Cram says she is already looking for another job.
“I work in Rundle Mall, but my bosses won’t give me longer breaks because of [the ban],” Ms Cram said.
“We don’t get given enough time for breaks, so there will be nowhere for me to smoke.
“I’ll have to find somewhere else to work.”
Despite this negative reaction, the Rundle Mall board is not disheartened.
General Manager of the Rundle Mall Management Authority, Martin Haese, says the ban is just what the city needs to bring shoppers back to the mall, rejecting claims that businesses will suffer financially.
“It would seem that 80% of people are in support of [the smoking ban], and 20% are against it,” Mr Haese said.
“That is probably a similar number to how many people smoke and how many don’t.
“So on the balance of probabilities, it might alienate some people, but it may attract others.”
Mr Haese says the ban is “inevitable”, given the evolving nature of the mall as an entertainment hub.
Adelaide City Councillor Houssam Abaid agreed with Mr Haese’s assessment, and says he does not think the ban unfairly targets smokers.
Mr Abaid says creating a healthy environment in the mall is their intention, rather than simply fining people.
“If you notice around the benches we have through the mall, that’s where most of the smokers sit,” Mr Abaid said.
“It’s also where most of the mothers sit to feed their children or to tend to their needs, while also having to deal with passive smoking.”
He says the council wants to create a healthy lifestyle for the city, and an environment open for everyone.
He also says the smoking ban is unlikely to extend past Rundle Mall.
“The mall has 27 million visitations a year,” he said.
“That huge amount of foot traffic is why we’re doing this.
“But I will not support a smoking ban anywhere else in the city.”
The State Government has announced the bylaw has their seal of approval, prior to its commencement in July this year.
People caught smoking in the mall in 2012 will not be fined, but handed information explaining the ban.
Anyone caught smoking in the mall in 2013 will be fined $62.50.