Push for wider ban on smoking

Bus stops and taxi ranks in New Plymouth could be ruled smokefree.
Bus stops and taxi ranks in New Plymouth could be ruled smokefree.

Bus stops and taxi ranks in New Plymouth could be the next places to be ruled smokefree.

The Taranaki Smokefree Coalition has appealed to the New Plymouth District Council to "ban" smoking in shared spaces, bus stops, taxi ranks and within four metres of the doorways of public buildings.

Council voted to consider the recommendations as a part of the smokefree parks policy review later this year.

But questions were raised by councillors about how enforceable a policy would be and if it would be a deterrent at all.

Former smoker Heather Dodunski was quick to slam the proposal.

The deputy mayor said she had no interest in a smokefree policy for the council.

"I believe it's not our responsibility and I find it quite stupid to be honest," she said.

"If we encourage them not to smoke in the open where then do they go? Back to their houses where they put their smoking among their families."

She said she was annoyed by the amount of money the Government spent trying to encourage people to quit smoking.

"If they want to stop smoking like most of us around this table stopped when we wanted to, then they can put their cigarettes down cold turkey, and that's it," she said.

"But now we have all of this mollycoddling.

"We could be spending a lot more of our health dollar curing people that are actually sick, instead of these people that smoke and want our sympathy."

The coalition had also asked the council to fund smokefree signs to supply to the region's sports clubs.

John McLeod, a smoker, questioned the cost and said he did not agree with council giving community funding for the smokefree signs.

"This is a health board issue. It should come down to tax, not rates," he said.

"They are a pretty big lobby group, Smokefree, and I'm sure they've got their own funding. Why should the ratepayers of our district fund their signs?"

However, councillor Len Houwers said smoking was a community health issue and he supported the proposal.

He said he did not see the issue any differently than the psychoactive substances debate the council had been through this year.

The council needed to support the country being smokefree by 2025 and as such should enact the bans the coalition called for.

Councillor Marie Pearce said the council had to support the proposal if it wanted to encourage a better community for future generations.

"I think this is a real step forward," she said

"I have never smoked but I think this is something we just absolutely have to do as a responsible council."

Since 2007 council-owned parks, playgrounds, walkways and sports grounds have been "smoke-free."

While not a ban, smokers would be reminded through signs and publicity not to light up in the council-owned open areas.

Taranaki Daily News