OPINION: The editorial ''When smoke gets in your sights'' (February 26) has shown that some clarification about the purpose of smokefree outdoor spaces (SFOS) and the harmful effects of second hand smoke (SHS) is needed.
SFOS are not about demonising people who smoke, but about creating supportive, safe outdoor environments that encourage children and young people to remain smokefree.
The Invercargill City Council's existing smokefree policy (sports fields, playgrounds) wasn't designed with enforcement in mind, but rather takes an educational approach to encourage positive smokefree attitudes.
Tobacco products have a powerfully addictive nature, but SFOS can help reduce social cues to smoke for people trying to quit. Reducing triggers like seeing or smelling tobacco products being smoked can help support quit attempts.
With regard to cemeteries and urupa, people of all ages and walks of life visit these areas, so designating them as smokefree will benefit family and whanau members across all generations. Attempts to quit can also be undermined by times of stress, such as grief, which is another important reason why cues to smoke should be reduced and smokefree environments encouraged.
Cemeteries and urupa are areas where respectful conduct is usually expected and observed, but inhaling SHS can be an offensive experience.
There is no known safe level of SHS exposure and those carcinogenic tendrils of smoke described in the editorial are not harmless just because they are outside.
Inhaling SHS involves inhaling nicotine and toxic chemicals, and the greater your SHS exposure, the higher the levels of these harmful chemicals in your body.
Health Promotion Co-ordinator (Southland)