Plea for bylaw on smokefree areas

PLEASANT TO BREATHE: Mother Sara Warr and daughter Jaya Baker, 3, left, and Kelly Dodd, with son Ryder Williams, 1, look forward to the day all parks are smokefree.
PLEASANT TO BREATHE: Mother Sara Warr and daughter Jaya Baker, 3, left, and Kelly Dodd, with son Ryder Williams, 1, look forward to the day all parks are smokefree.

Calls are growing for the Hamilton City Council to implement a bylaw making areas of Hamilton's central city smokefree – with fines imposed on those who break the rules.

City councillor and chairwoman of the strategy and policy committee, Maria Westphal, said the council was in the early stage of considering the requests.

"Centre Place management has approached council regarding designation of a smokefree area outside the main mall's Ward St entrance," she said.

"The Waikato District Health Board has also requested a smokefree bylaw for streets adjacent to Waikato Hospital.

"One Garden Place property owner made a submission to council's draft 10-year Plan, requesting Garden Place be declared a smokefree zone, and a recent informal survey indicates there is support from other business owners in Garden Place."

Of the council's 208 parks and open spaces, several were designated smokefree including Claudelands, Seddon Park, Waikato Stadium, all their theatres and Hamilton Zoo, Ms Westphal said.

The council would investigate how successful that had been before considering its broader smokefree policy in August.

"At present, smoking is permitted in council's parks – we have no bylaw that prohibits it."

She was aware of early research by smokefree group CHANCES, which showed support for smokefree parks in Hamilton.

"This would be in the form of an educational policy, rather an enforcement."

Hamilton mums Kelly Dodd, 28, and Sara Warr, 31, looked forward to the day they could take their children to the park without third-hand smoke getting to their children.

Ms Warr said smoking at a park while young children were playing was like smoking at the beach.

"It just looks wrong."

Ms Dodd, a former social smoker, said her view on smoking in public had changed since having Ryder.

"I'd support parks being smokefree. It's a bit yuck when people are sitting there smoking while your children are playing."

However, both women said they would move away instead of confronting a smoker.

Waikato District Health Board was one of five midlands DHBs to sign an agreement in March making a commitment to have the entire district smokefree/tobacco free by 2025.

Chairman Graeme Milne said it was achievable.

"We want [smoking] to be more than just unacceptable. We'll continue to educate people that this is poison and it does kill you ... and it's not a nice death when you do die."

Nichola Te Kiri, who works in the population health unit, said they were trying to get everyone aware of the 2025 target.

"We need to promote it as much as we can because if we continue at the rate we are going, we really won't reach the target," she said.

"We really need to flood it now and kind of bombard people with the whole smokefree environment and encourage people to quit."

She said she was "hopeful" they would be smokefree by 2025.

Waikato Times