‘Smoke city’ ris­ing

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

MOVES to­ward a smoke­free cam­pus have left at least one neigh­bour feel­ing burnt.

But the school says work­ing to re­solve is­sues.

Stu­dents and staff at Unitec’s Mt Al­bert cam­pus have had to leave the grounds to smoke since May 31.

Nearby res­i­dent Tanya Ho­lak says smok­ers are now con­gre­gat­ing out­side her Mark Rd home – from where she runs her child­care busi­ness – and turn­ing the area into ‘‘ smoke city’’.

‘‘It’s close to the main stu­dent hub so they all come out here,’’ Ms Ho­lak says.

‘‘They stand along the it’s the fence­line and in the mid­dle of the street.

‘‘You should see the rub­bish – I haven’t seen one per­son take their butts with them.

‘‘Now they’re all bring­ing their lunch out with them as well so there’s pizza boxes, cof­fee cups, and bot­tles every­where.’’

Ms Ho­lak has been ask­ing smok­ers to move on. She says many of those con­fronted have been un­der­stand­ing but oth­ers have been abu­sive. ‘‘I’m not an­ti­smok­ing but sec­ondary smoke is bad for chil­dren and it just looks re­ally yuck when you look out the win­dow and there are 30 to 40 peo­ple in a day stand­ing in the street smok­ing.’’

Ms Ho­lak has ap­proached Unitec about the is­sue.

‘‘I was told it’s pub­lic land so there isn’t any­thing they can do. I was told if there is a rub­bish prob­lem I should call the coun­cil.

‘‘I don’t know why they can’t have a des­ig­nated area on their land for them to smoke,’’ she says.

A Unitec spokes­woman says the school recog­nises be­ing smoke­free will have an im­pact on the com­mu­nity in the short-term and wants to hear of any is­sues so they can be ad­dressed.

Unitec put up smoke­free signs in the street af­ter be­ing con­tacted by Ms Ho­lak and or­gan­ised for its clean­ers to col­lect rub­bish in the area. It will have its se­cu­rity team keep an eye on the sit­u­a­tion.

‘‘We will be com­mu­ni­cat­ing with staff and stu­dents high­light­ing the is­sues raised,’’ the spokes­woman says.

She says hav­ing a des­ig­nated smok­ing area was one of the op­tions put for­ward when the school con­sulted its staff and stu­dents on the pol­icy but there was lit­tle sup­port for it.

ASH New Zealand has been work­ing closely with Unitec on the change.

Health pro­moter Grant Hock­ing says the is­sues Ms Ho­lak is fac­ing aren’t un­heard of and will im­prove.

He says the same thing hap­pened when schools went smoke­free a few years ago. ‘‘The teach­ers would all stand out the front of the school and smoke in­stead of hid­den away where they used to. Peo­ple thought the smoke­free pol­icy was teach­ing kids to smoke.

‘‘Now you don’t hear about that prob­lem any­more be­cause a lot of them have stopped smok­ing,’’ he says.

Mr Hock­ing says re­search sug­gests more than 80 per cent of smok­ers would like to quit and when sim­i­lar poli­cies have been im­ple­mented in other in­sti­tu­tions it has re­sulted in more peo­ple giv­ing up the habit.

‘‘Be­cause it is in­con­ve­nient to smoke peo­ple stop bring­ing to­bacco prod­ucts to the place and more peo­ple give up,’’ he says.

– Tanya Ho­lak Unitec neigh­bour and child­care cen­tre

busi­ness owner Bit­ter taste: Unitec’s new smoke­free pol­icy is hav­ing an un­for­tu­nate down­side for neigh­bour Tanya Ho­lak and her son Ethan Ah-Loo.

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