Readers support park smoking ban
A Nelson Mail opinion poll has shown strong public support for a planned council policy that would ban smoking in parks.
As of 4pm Thursday, the informal online poll of 210 readers showed that 63.2 of respondents would back the smokefree policy covering parks, reserves and playgrounds around the Tasman district.
34.8 per cent were against the idea, with 2 per cent not caring either way.
Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the smokefree parks policy at a community services committee meeting in Richmond. It was one of the recommendations in a document outlining management plans for the district's reserves that had been reviewed by a working party including deputy mayor Tim King and councillors Judene Edgar and Eileen Wilkins.
Although councillors supported the draft document they agreed with a recommendation that a smokefree parks policy would not require a bylaw. Council reserves manager Beryl Wilkes said a bylaw would be difficult to police and penalising smokers in reserves could also be a costly process.
Instead, Ms Wilkes suggested the smokefree parks policy would be aimed at encouraging people to change their behaviour and it would be self-policing. Smokefree signs would be installed in the district's parks to promote the smokefree message, she said.
Passive smoking was a health risk and she said the aim of the policy was to improve the health of Tasman residents. "It's a very gentle change," she said.
However, Mr King said the council did not want the policy to become a barrier for smokers. He said that the "softly softly approach that sent a message to think about where you smoke" was best.
Mayor Richard Kempthorne agreed that the best way to encourage residents to stop smoking in parks and reserves would be to generate community support for the policy.
Ms Wilkes said the policy had also been supported by the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board which was concerned about smoking in reserves and playgrounds.
The document will now go out for public consultation.