TOUGHER anti-smoking laws have started in NSW and smokers have been banned from lighting up at playgrounds, public sports grounds, swimming pools, transport stops and entrances to public buildings.
The tough new rules were established by the NSW Government in August last year for introduction in January 2013, with a further strengthening of the law planned for 2015 when outdoor areas where food is consumed will also become off limits.
The law bans smoking at playgrounds within 10m of play equipment and within 4m of public buildings with a $550 fine dished out to smokers who refuse to comply.
Cancer Council Far North Coast community programs coordinator Rhian Paton-Kelly said the council was delighted to see the introduction of the laws.
"It's a crucial step towards clearing the air.
"The new measures will protect children, parents and the community from the negative effects of passive smoking," Ms Paton-Kelly said.
Mr Paton-Kelly said the council's next goal was to see the introduction of the Smoke Free Dining Legislation take place in 2015.
"2015 may seem a while away but it is great the legislation has been included.
"It also means no one has an excuse and can claim they weren't prepared," Ms Paton-Kelly said.
The introduction is part of the NSW Tobacco Strategy 2012-2017 which aims to reduce smoking rates by 3% by 2015 for non-Aboriginal people and by 4% for Aboriginal people by the same date.
Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in NSW accounting for about 5200 deaths and 44,000 hospitalisations a year.
The NSW government will to lead an education campaign to inform the community about the changes and will continue to monitor and enforce all restrictions on tobacco advertising and promotion.