Smokefree plea sways council
Twizel Area School's plea to make the district's playgrounds smokefree has been heard loud and clear by the council.
Mackenzie district councillors have voted unanimously in favour of smokefree playgrounds, after Twizel Area School students made a presentation to the council's long-term plan hearings earlier this month.
Cr Annette Money, of Twizel, said she was impressed by the students' presentation.
"They were so confident in front of us. Smokefree playgrounds has been discussed by the council before, but for the kids to be so behind the idea really did sway us," she said.
The students who spoke at the council hearings were Liam Tonner, Emily Carpenter, Liam Grant, Cailean Rive, Georgia Ashton, Santana Rapana, Kian Muir and Jake Baikie. Smokefree South Canterbury committee member Leola Ryder was delighted with the council's decision.
"This is a really important first step for the council," she said.
"It shows they're serious about working towards a smokefree New Zealand. Children learn from their peers and adults, and making playgrounds smokefree will send the right message."
Ms Ryder said Community and Public Health had offered to assist the council, either by providing ready-made signs or helping with any awareness campaigns.
The students had been working with teacher Michele O'Carroll and Smokefree health promoter Leola Ryder as part a Wave (Well-being and Vitality in Education) initiative through Community & Public Health over the past year.
They collected more than 200 signatures for their petition supporting smokefree playgrounds.
"This has been a huge project. I'm so proud of them," Mrs O'Carroll said.
"It was quite challenging for the students to get up in front of the council and make that presentation. Their hard work has paid off." Mrs O'Carroll said the students chose smokefree playgrounds because they were an area where children often were exposed to smoking.
"However, we are keen to remind people that it's not about the smoker, it's about the smoking.
"We already have smokefree bars and cinemas, so the more we can stop smoking looking like the norm, the less likely others would be encouraged to smoke."
The Mackenzie district council's decision comes after Timaru and Waimate councils declared their council-owned playgrounds smokefree. Timaru also recently indicated that it would declare council-owned sports grounds smokefree.
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