Smoking ban in Hamilton widens

A voluntary ban on smoking pushing smokers away from key public areas has been widened by the city council despite concerns the rules are being flouted.

The smokefree policy is being touted as successful although there is evidence it simply displaces smokers who comply, with smoking litter counts up slightly.

Subject to ratification by the full council, bus shelters and stops, Ward St east and all council parks and sports fields will be added to the city's smokefree area list.

A report noting the impact since the voluntary ban was introduced almost a year ago suggested widespread compliance in some areas, and some groups defying the policy, which relies on signage and the public for force.

Efforts had been most successful at the Transport Centre, with observed smokers halving in recent surveys after rigorous education efforts by staff.

A report on banning synthetic cannabis smoking has also been sought after business association manager Sandy Turner reported seeing bongs in Garden Place.

Businesses believed that was now a greater problem than tobacco, Ms Turner said.

City Safe patrols were reporting tobacco and synthetic cannabis smoking was impacting on businesses, and the voluntary measures had not worked.

Central business association members want a bylaw with instant fines for what Ms Turner described as "absolutely blatant synthetic cannabis use.

"I was in town on the weekend, and it was like being in Amsterdam. There were people with bongs; it's chaotic."

The report will come back to the strategy and policy committee next month.

Waikato Times