Smokefree areas spread through city

Non-smoking outdoor areas all go in PN.

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 02/07/2013
Smoking
MURRAY WILSON/Fairfax NZ
SMOKY STOP: Helen Galbraith finishes her cigarette before catching the bus at the Main street depot which is likely to become a smoke free spot.

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More of central Palmerston North and its city council facilities are set to go smokefree.

The community wellbeing committee yesterday recommended adoption of the smokefree outdoor areas policy.

The unanimous vote sparked applause from a public gallery of deputations from the Cancer Society, Heart Foundation and MidCentral Public Health Services.

However, calls to extend the voluntary ban to the entire central area inside the ring road were not picked up.

After consultation on a "clean air" draft policy, councillors agreed to conform with "smokefree" branding, and added bus stops, King, Queen and Cuba streets and Coleman Place to the list of affected areas.

It also extended the goal for footpaths to be covered by the voluntary code to include the whole street, to discourage people from stepping out to the gutter, pedestrian crossing or traffic island to have a smoke.

"Otherwise we are saying, if you want to smoke, hack it with the traffic," Cr Bruce Wilson said.

The smokefree policy is backed up by $10,000 for signs and education, and by the Tobacco Free Central coalition, but has no legal standing or means of enforcement.

Council policy analyst Julie Macdonald said the approach was deliberately about encouraging people not to smoke in public places, especially where young people could see them. "It is not trying to punish people or hound them out of town."

Cr Jan Barnett said she supported the voluntary nature of the policy, and efforts to make smoking seem less normal.

"It's about encouragement and positive role modelling. But I have some feeling for people who are addicted to smoking.

"It is not illegal to smoke tobacco, and we have to be careful we are not giving any notion of a punitive response."

University of Otago Wellington-based public health researcher George Thompson said the council's policy was a progressive one.

He said many cities had begun by declaring playgrounds and parks smokefree to protect children, but in fact, more children were exposed to smoking on busy shopping streets.

It was now recognised that seeing people smoke was a danger for young people and those trying to give up, not just exposure to secondhand smoke, he said.

Council staff and the community health groups will spend three months working on an implementation plan laying foundations for the success of the policy, which will be reviewed after a year.

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