Fierce arguments are being sparked by a proposal to eventually ban smoking on Rodney beaches as part of a planned drive towards a smoke-free Auckland.
A Rodney Times street poll indicates the plan is supported by about 70 per cent of adults. Results mirror an earlier daily newspaper poll of 20,000 respondents.
Hibiscus and Bays Local Board chairwoman Julia Parfitt, a non-smoker, typifies those favouring a ban.
"In fact, the board has it as an aspirational goal," she says. "Having someone smoking near you on a beautiful beach is not pleasant. Nor is finding the sand littered with cigarette butts.
"It is not unusual world-wide - in America, Australia and elsewhere - to ban smoking on beaches and we should definitely do the same."
Vigorous opposition is expressed by 84-year-old Peter Cowlishaw of Stanmore Bay, a heavy smoker until he broke the habit 40 years ago.
"We already have too many people keen to run our lives. OK, so perhaps there may be a whiff of a smoke smell but that soon blows away and it's not a serious problem.
"As for the government's goal of making New Zealand smoke-free by 2025 . . . well, that's just ridiculous. To start with, our economy would be hurt because international tourists who like to smoke would stop coming here."
Some who share Mr Cowlishaw's anti-ban views insist on being anonymous.
"No-one's going to stop me enjoying a puff here on the beach but don't stick my name in the paper," an Orewa man says.
"I don't want some anti-smoking nut throwing rocks at my windows."
But smokers are in the majority welcoming a ban.
David Magill, 22, of Red Beach - a 10-a-day user - says it would help him stop altogether.
"And I wouldn't be tempted to light up there so, yes, it's a good idea."
His mate Sam White, a 22-year-old non-smoker, agrees. "There are plenty of other places people can have a puff without being a nuisance."
Another non-smoker, Liane Otto, describes herself as ‘a fence-sitter'. "I don't like smoking but don't feel it's my place to tell other people what they should be doing."
Hatfields Beach non-smoker Curtis Rutledge, 49, vehemently opposes smoking. "The smell makes me feel ill," he says. "I certainly don't want it near me when I'm with my family on the beach."
His revulsion stems from his only smoking experience when, at 13, his mother found cigarettes hidden in his room.
"I hadn't tried them but was keeping them for a friend . . .," he says. "Anyway, my dad thought they were mine and forced me to smoke three, one after another, and - just as he'd figured - that made me so sick I still detest the things."
Others supporting a ban include Quinn Li ("All those butts man - disgusting!"), John Goodkin of Stanmore Bay who quit 25 years ago ("I'd like smoking banned everywhere.") and Matt Taylor ("Horrible habit!").
- Rodney Times
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