Council takes shelter from smoking backlash
$7000 shelter to "ensure non-smokers are protected from tobacco smoke"TARA SHASKEY
The saying goes that there is no smoke without fire.
But the New Plymouth District Council has discovered there can be plenty of fire with very little smoke.
It has raised the ire of many after building a $7000 shelter at the Civic Centre to "ensure non-smokers are protected from tobacco smoke".
The shelter for smokers was put up in July after an existing designated smoking platform under the Leach St overbridge was deemed unsuitable.
The wooden platform, which is not often used, is to be moved to another council site.
New Plymouth woman Jenny Eichstaedt-Bell kicked off a discussion about the new shelter on the council's Facebook page when she questioned the cost of the polycarbonate structure.
"As I drive past it each night I struggle to work out how a couple of bits of curved pipe, a couple of bolts and some clear perspex could possibly cost that much," Ms Eichstaedt-Bell said. Another Facebook commentator, identified as "StockyNZ", said it was an appalling use of ratepayers' money and suggested umbrellas would be just as effective.
And the council also got a butt-kicking from Heart Foundation Taranaki heart health advocate Elaine Jamieson, who said it was disappointing that the local body had chosen to invest in an on-site covered smoking space.
"Smoking continues to be the number one preventable cause of death of New Zealanders, so we would hope to see staff being supported to quit," she said.
"In view of the totally Smokefree Aotearoa goal in 2025, this seems to be a backward step on their part."
Council policy endorses smokefree parks, playgrounds, sports grounds and walkways, and it is part of the Taranaki Smoke Free Coalition which is working towards a smokefree New Zealand by 2025.
But the council manager of people and organisational development, Andrea Smith, said building the shelter fulfilled the council's obligations as a good employer under the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990.
"We provide this designated smoking area to ensure that non-smoking employees, elected members, volunteers, contractors and service providers are protected from tobacco smoke in the workplace."
Tara Shaskey is a Witt journalism student.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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