Council anti-smoking stance draws doubters

Last updated 12:00 03/12/2013

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A council plan to stamp out smoking in Palmerston North's inner-city streets and parks has been launched - but its effectiveness is already being questioned.

The policy, which will use encouragement rather than prohibit smoking, was launched at Georgie Girl in George St yesterday.

Smokefree/Auahi Kore signs will appear in central city streets over the next few weeks, and businesses are being asked to get on board.

Mayor Jono Naylor said while the council couldn't make people stop smoking, it could actively support Palmerston North residents to make the city smokefree.

"The policy was put in place a number of months ago; what we've now been doing is going around and getting people on board with it," he said. "In order for it to be a smokefree place to work, what we really need to do is have this signage up and we need to have the co-operation of the retailers."

Mr Naylor said the launch was about trying to bring about behavioural change, and moving people towards the target of being smokefree by 2025.

Downtown manager Greg Key said he wasn't worried about the impacts of the policy on patrons or staff habits. "Until it becomes illegal to smoke then the people of Palmerston North will do as they please," he said.

"But we haven't been approached and haven't heard anything.

"Maybe if the city council looked at the mess the birds make, and the health risks, we might get somewhere - and the city-council-installed ashtrays are still out there."

Georgie Girl owner Dawn Scrivener pledged to stop smoking earlier this year on World Smokefree Day, but still faces an ongoing struggle to achieve her goal.

"I know how damaging smoking can be, and I really want my store to be on a smokefree street," Ms Scrivener said.

"It's just chipping away, at the moment it's only certain streets and areas, but hopefully it will become city-wide.

"So this is just the first step and you've got to start somewhere."

The Desert Rose Cafe, Studio 31, and Petit Fours have also committed to the policy, which includes Queen St, King St, Cuba St, Coleman Place, George St, Broadway Ave (to Princess St) and The Square.

It also covers parks, playgrounds, council buildings, bus stops and events.

The Palmerston North City Council will evaluate and review the policy in mid-2014.

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- Manawatu Standard


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