Smoke­free pol­icy a lit­tle hazy

Central Leader - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

‘‘Too much cau­tion’’ amongst coun­cil­lors means a plan to stub out smok­ing in Auck­land’s pub­lic places isn’t liv­ing up to ev­ery­body’s ex­pec­ta­tions.

The Auck­land Coun­cil will roll out its smoke­free pol­icy in three stages over five years.

The first stage which takes ef­fect this month bans smok­ing in out­door fa­cil­i­ties in­clud­ing sta­di­ums, swim­ming pools, parks and re­serves, and trans­port fa­cil­i­ties like train sta­tions.

The fi­nal stage to be rolled out by May 31, 2018 will stretch to beaches and civic squares.

For now the pol­icy will rely on so­cial pres­sure from the pub­lic to en­cour­age oth­ers to com­ply and will be pro­moted through signs.

A re­view in 2016 will de­cide whether a bylaw is needed.

Re­ly­ing on vol­un­tary com­pli­ance is a cheaper op­tion and has proved suc­cess­ful else­where, deputy chair­woman of the re­gional de­vel­op­ment and op­er­a­tions com­mit­tee coun­cil­lor San­dra Coney says.

The Can­cer So­ci­ety is commend- ing the pol­icy which was ap­proved last week but says the coun­cil hasn’t lis­tened to pub­lic opin­ion which in­di­cates the time-frames should be brought for­ward.

A sur­vey by the so­ci­ety ear­lier in the month found that two thirds of cen­tral Auck­lan­ders wanted their com­mu­ni­ties to be smoke­free by 2016 or sooner.

The sur­vey also re­vealed there is over­whelm­ing sup­port for bus stops and train sta­tions be­ing made smoke­free with 87 per cent of re­spon­dents say­ing it was the pre­ferred op­tion.

Sixty three per cent also said they were more likely to visit an out­door venue if there were no smok­ers.

‘‘Cen­tral Auck­lan­ders are right be­hind smoke­free and it makes sense as be­ing a higher den­sity area, our pub­lic places have an im­pact on our fam­i­lies, our work life, and so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties,’’ Can­cer So­ci­ety Auck­land chief ex­ec­u­tive John Loof says.

‘‘It’s great to see trans­port ar­eas be­ing made smoke­free in 2013 rather than 2015 as Auck­lan­ders are highly sup­port­ive of this.

‘‘How­ever the coun­cil needs to lis­ten to Auck­lan­ders, go fur­ther sooner, and make pub­lic places smoke­free by 2016.’’

Coun­cil­lor Richard Northey says there wasn’t the ‘‘po­lit­i­cal pres­sure’’ to shift the time­frame.

Mr Northey voted to bring for­ward the date for smoke­free beaches, but the pro­posal was turned down.

‘‘Beaches are an area where peo­ple get quite close and are there for a healthy rea­son.

‘‘There is too much cau­tion amongst coun­cil­lors. Many feel the last Labour govern­ment got kicked out for be­ing a nanny state and they don’t want to be seen as that.

‘‘They want to see if it works first be­fore they go too far,’’ he says.

No smok­ing: Auck­land Coun­cil’s smoke­free pol­icy isn’t all it was ex­pected to be for some.

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