Smokefree policy a little hazy
‘‘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.