‘Smoke city’ rising
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.