AUSTRALIA: Restaurant told to pay compensation to asthmatic
53 year-old nurse Andrea Bowles was awarded A$7600 in damages yesterday (13 September) after a court declared that she had not been provided with a smoke-free, safe environment in which to eat her dinner. Her solicitor reported that she was delighted with the victory in a court case which is sure to set a precedent within the restaurant industry.The asthmatic sued Tien Tien restaurant, situated in the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda, after the smoky evening in August 1998 induced a severe asthma attack, which she claimed not only ruined her meal but her whole Queensland holiday. Eating with her husband and four friends, Bowles said that the meal had been booked in a non-smoking section, and they were shocked to discover an ashtray on the table. They were moved, but say there were no signs distinguishing one section from another and claim that about a dozen people were smoking within a two-metre radius.The magistrate initially awarded Bowles A$10 000 but the amount was reduced when it was heard that she contributed to her illness by failing to leave the restaurant sooner.Australia's National Asthma Campaign welcomed the landmark court ruling as evidence of the legal consequences that can ensue from passive smoking. Todd Harper, director of Quit, added that at least 75% of Australians were non-smokers. "Smoking and non-smoking areas don't work," he said, "we may recognise the boundaries but smoke certainly doesn't."
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