Auckland could ban smoking in public

Smoking could be banned across much of Auckland including town centres, pedestrian malls and at council-run events if a strict smoke-free policy is adopted by the Auckland Council.

A report to this week's Parks Recreation and Heritage Forum recommends the non-regulatory smoke-free policy initially be limited to council-controlled open spaces such as parks, reserves, skate parks, playgrounds and sports fields, but says over time its scope would be extended to other public places and events.

Councillors will vote for or against the development of the smoke-free policy at the forum it would then be passed on to the Regional Development and Operations Committee.

The report lists the benefits of a ban in town centres, pedestrian malls and streetscapes as de-normalising smoking, reducing cigarette butt litter and reducing exposure of children to smoke.

However, it says it may drive smokers to cluster in certain areas, would be difficult to implement and may not be supported by the business community.

Auckland Council has inherited a range of smoke-free policies from legacy councils. Auckland Regional Council promoted smoke-free parks across the region.

In Manukau and Waitakere skate parks, stadiums, courts and sports fields were smoke-free and there was a ban at Northern Busway stations under the North Shore City Council.

Park, recreation and heritage forum chairwoman Sandra Coney said earlier this year she believed there was huge public support for a ban in parks but feedback would be sought before extending the ban to other public places.
If the policy was to come in to force it would not to be able to be enforced in any way but would be educational campaigns and signage.

This approach, which counts on compliance through social pressure, is already used at Mt Smart Stadium, Eden Park and Auckland Zoo.

She said the non-regulatory approach worked well at Mt Smart Stadium and there was no reason it couldn't be effective elsewhere around the city.

The policy would follow on from an intention by the council, signalled in the Auckland Plan, that by 2025 all parks and reserves, children's play areas and other public areas be smokefree.

It also intends that by 2025 less than three per cent of residents will smoke. Eleven out of 21 local boards included smokefree initiatives in their local plans developed last year.

The report to council notes that budget reductions in the Long Term Plan, due to be adopted later this month, means research funds would be limited but cost savings can be achieved through minimising publication and promotional costs during the development of the policy.

Auckland Now