The Heart Foundation has congratulated Wollongong City Council for banning smoking and vaping at all patrolled beaches.
The change to the city's Smoke Free Recreation Policy, approved at Monday's night's ordinary council meeting, means smoking will now not be allowed within 50 metres of surf lifesaving flags.
The Heart Foundation's Illawarra/Shoalhaven health promotion coordinator Andy Mark welcomed the move.
He said the Heart Foundation's Heart Maps data showed Wollongong ranked in the worst performing half of local government areas in NSW for smoking and obesity rates.
Mr Mark said Council's vote would make a difference and go a long way to de-normalising smoking and marking it as an unhealthy and potentially lethal habit.
"Smoke-free laws and policies in Australia are continuing to make a huge difference to people's lives. They create a supportive environment that protect people from secondhand smoke but also help people to quit and stay quit," Mr Mark said.
Importantly, Wollongong City Council's inclusion of e-cigarettes reflects concerns about their appeal to youth and questions about their safety.
These smoke-free policies make Wollongong an even healthier place to live and mean that swimming and relaxing between the flags has never been safer.Heart Foundation's Illawarra/Shoalhaven health promotion coordinator Andy Mark
"Unregulated use of e-cigarettes has the potential to threaten people's health by keeping smokers addicted to nicotine and addicting a new generation of smokers. Research is also showing they can be bad for our hearts. Wollongong City Council's decision to include e-cigarettes in their smoke-free policies is a step in the right direction," Mr Mark said.
"These smoke-free policies make Wollongong an even healthier place to live and mean that swimming and relaxing between the flags has never been safer."
While there is strong support for the new policy, anyone caught flouting the ban will not be fined, as no one will have the power to enforce the council's new rules.
Wollongong is the 12th NSW city to have designated smoke-free areas on beaches.
Smoking will be banned between and within 50m of the flags during patrol season.
The ban will not apply beyond the sand, which will allow smokers "to remain in a line of sight to the swimming area between flags and personal belongings".
The policy change will come into force from February 1.