THE saga of Parramatta's smoking policy continues with councillors overturning the smoking ban in outdoor dining areas at Monday's council meeting — again.
In a motion sprung on the chamber Liberal councillors voted to bring its policy in line with state government policy, essentially overturning the ban in alfresco dining areas until 2015.
Parramatta Business Freedom Association's Omar Besiso, who represents a group of restaurant owners against the ban, said it wasn't about promoting smoking but endorsing the livelihood of restaurateurs.
"We just want to see a level playing field," Mr Besiso said.
"The ban was taking business out of Parramatta and over to places like Merrylands where they didn't have the same rules.
"We just didn't understand why there was one rule for businesses in Parramatta and another rule for others — it was like a punishment."
He said association members accepted the 2015 smoke-free deadline as it would give them time to adjust.
The latest decision is the second time council's smoking ban has been overturned.
A council commissioned survey showed 83 per cent of people in Parramatta were non-smokers with 87 per cent of people opposed to smoking in dining areas.
Labor councillor Julia Finn said some councillors were ignoring the community to pander to a minority.
"We want to be seen as a modern, cosmopolitan city and overturning the ban projects a really bad image," Cr Finn said.
"We're talking about a toxic carcinogen — a decision like this flies in the face of the Lord Mayor's Healthy City initiative." She also took offence to the decision to spring the matter on the chamber without notice.
"This is a major initiative, a major policy change and we should have been given notice of this debate."
Labor councillors lodged a rescission motion to put the matter before the next council meeting.
Cr Scott Lloyd, who brought forward the policy change, said the council first introduced the policy because the state government had not taken action and now that it had, the need for council to introduce smoking bans was reduced.
Lord mayor John Chedid ruled the matter could be discussed but did not vote as his cousin owns a restaurant in Parramatta.
Restaurants who go smoke-free before 2015 will receive a 50 per cent reduction on its lease until 2015.
The following areas will be smoke-free under state government legislation and council policy:
*Within 10 metres of children's play equipment in playgrounds;
*At public swimming pools;
*At sports facilities and public sport grounds;
*At public transport stops and stations; and
*Within four metres of public building doorways.