Could the CBD be smoke­free?

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - CA­TRIN OWEN

Smok­ers might have to stub out their cig­a­rettes in the Auck­land CBD if a new by­law is passed.

Auck­land Coun­cil is again in­ves­ti­gat­ing a by­law to make smok­ing in des­ig­nated open spa­ces in the city il­le­gal.

Even though the coun­cil al­ready has the coun­try’s most com­pre­hen­sive smoke­free pol­icy, Mayor Len Brown says it’s time to take a more proac­tive and reg­u­la­tory ap­proach.

‘‘There has been a re­duc­tion of smok­ing in this city, which I think is partly due to our pol­icy, and pub­lic opin­ion is on our side to give that pol­icy more grunt and show some strong lead­er­ship in this re­gard,’’ he says.

The pro­posed ban could range from high den­sity ar­eas such as pave­ment din­ing and civic squares to beaches and the en­tire CBD.

How­ever the prac­ti­cal­ity around this is­sue is ques­tion­able, as un­der cur­rent na­tional leg­is­la­tion a by­law would not grant Auck­land Coun­cil pow­ers to is­sue in­fringe­ment no­tices to smok­ers.

The le­gal re­course would be pros­e­cu­tion, coun­cil’s so­cial pol­icy and by­laws man­ager Mike Sin­clair says.

‘‘Auck­land Coun­cil does not have the le­gal man­date or pow­ers to spec­ify where or un­der what con­di­tions cig­a­rettes can be sold and cur­rently busi­nesses do not re­quire a li­cence to be able to sell cig­a­rettes,’’ Sin­clair says.

Nime­sha Pa­tel is the owner of Midday Counter on Karanga­hape Rd and would be sup­port­ive of the by­law it it was ac­tioned.

‘‘We don’t make that much money from cig­a­rettes as it is mostly taxes, but they do at­tract cus­tomers in to buy other things,’’ she says.

The Waitem­ata Lo­cal Board has been unan­i­mous in its sup­port for the ini­tia­tive, chair Shale Cham­bers says.

‘‘We, early on, be­fore any re­gional pol­icy, be­gan declar­ing all lo­cal parks, sports­fields, re­serves, play­grounds, skateparks coun­cil-de­liv­ered events, li­braries and community fa­cil­i­ties, swim­ming pools, and pub­lic out­door ar­eas smoke-free,’’ he says.

The by­law will take some time to de­velop and in­ves­ti­gate as it in­volves re­search, stake­holder en­gage­ment, le­gal review and ap­proval, full pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion and hear­ings and pub­lic de­lib­er­a­tions.

If it goes ahead, it is an­other step to­wards a smoke­free city and could be the first ma­jor out­door smoke­free by­law in New Zealand.

PHOTO: ROBERT CHARLES

Auck­land Coun­cil is in­ves­ti­gat­ing cre­at­ing a smok­ing ban in the CBD and other open spa­ces.

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