Smokefree beaches under proposal

A new smokefree outdoors policy would see Kapiti's central business district areas and beaches become smoke-free.

The proposal, presented at last Thursday's Kapiti Coast District Council meeting, made recommendations in support of the Government's goal of a Smokefree New Zealand in 2025.

These included central business districts of Paekakariki, Paraparaumu, Waikanae and Otaki becoming smokefree, as well as townships and beaches, and all council-owned buildings and facilities.

Cancer Society Mid Central field officer Marilyn Stevens said the main impetus of the proposal was to keep smoking away from children and people with respiratory problems.

"We're not saying to people 'we don't want you to smoke', we just want these areas to be smokefree.

"By 2025 the Government wants it to be national policy, so we're just saying, 'let's do it earlier'," she said.

The group behind the proposal also included the Heart Foundation, Te Runanga o Raukawa and Regional Public Health. The proposal recommended the council allocate at least $5000 in its 2014-15 annual plan to cover any costs for non-smoking signs and review current signs in playgrounds, parks and sports grounds in regard to their number, size and visibility.

"At the moment in Haruatai Park [in Otaki], there are two little signs which you can't even read," she said.

Stevens said the council was likely to focus on Otaki first.

Kapiti resident and longtime smoker Andie O'Leary said the proposed policy was overboard.

"It is dictating in a democratic society.

"They can't police it anyway.

"It would cost the council and the area to have the council waste ratepayers' money.

"I understand if you can't smoke outside cafes, but to ban it in the whole area is over the top. We own the area, not council."

Councillor Penny Gaylor said she did not want to pre-judge the outcome of the proposal.

"With anything we put in a policy that needs to be enforced, it needs to be consistent across the district.

"Neighbouring districts might have different ways of doing things, we have to make sure we are consistent."

Realistically the council would not have a report ready for another three months, she said.

"We have to do some information gathering, looking at the current bans and different approaches we could use.

"The option might be a no go, stay as we are."

Kapiti Observer