Smokefree - phase 1

JAMES IRELAND
Last updated 05:00 26/07/2013

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Smoking at the beach and civic squares will soon be a thing of the past with Auckland Council passing a smoking ban.

The policy provides a staged approach to eliminate smoking from public places between now and 2018.

It covers the whole city and will rely on social pressure from the public to encourage others to comply.

The main cost for implementing the first stage of the smokefree policy will be in printing and installing no-smoking signs which is estimated to be $76,000.

Under the first phase which takes effect from this month, outdoor facilities like parks and playgrounds, public outdoor areas associated with the council and transport areas including bus shelters and train platforms will all be smokefree.

Besides the health benefits, a smokefree policy will help take butts out of the stormwater system and assist in fire prevention.

Waitakere councillor Sandra Coney says the policy will create a healthier, more enjoyable city.

"The council is starting with a non-regulatory policy that will be promoted through education and awareness using signs and other communications.

This provides a less costly and more socially cooperative option and other authorities both within New Zealand and internationally have seen results from this approach."

From May 31, 2015, all shared spaces such as Totara Ave West in New Lynn, civic squares and plazas will be smokefree.

A telephone survey of 840 West Aucklanders commissioned by Cancer Society Auckland showed areas like building entrances and transport hubs were where most people wanted to be free of second-hand smoke. Chief executive John Loof says the society knows Aucklanders support a smokefree city and West Auckland is one of the most supportive areas.

"We hope the council listens to public support and introduces Smokefree Auckland by 2016 or sooner."

Two-thirds of Westies said they would be more likely to use outdoor eating areas if they were smokefree.

The policy will be reviewed in 2016 and a decision will be made about making the areas around sports clubs on council land, outdoor dining areas, urban centres, all public beaches and common areas of council housing become smokefree.

When the council adopted its Auckland Plan the decision was made that: "All parks and reserves, children's play areas and other public space identified in bylaws will be smoke-free by 2025."

Maori use of tobacco has been shown as a significant problem.

Throughout the non-Maori population 18 per cent are smokers whereas in the Maori population 44 per cent smoke.

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Local boards can aim the message at specific groups such as Maori and the council will be required to monitor Maori smoking statistics.

- Western Leader

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