Smoke-filled tunnel causing headaches
Auckland children are being exposed to second-hand smoke on a daily basis in a motorway underpass.
Now underpass users, Ellerslie residents and business owners want the pedestrian access to be smokefree.
The Ellerslie underpass runs beneath the motorway between Findlay St and Sultan St providing access to the Ellerslie Train Station platform, Ellerslie School and One Tree Hill College. The underpass has a liquor ban sign but no smokefree sign.
Every day Mt Wellington resident Rachael Smith walks through the underpass to work. She said it is an enclosed public walkway and should be smokefree.
Auckland Council’s smokefree policy designates a range of outdoor public places as smokefree. The policy does not ban smoking but aims to denormalise it. Council documents show the well-being of children and young people is central to the smokefree policy.
Ellerslie Business Association town centre manager Megan Darrow said people regularly smoke in the underpass and ‘‘kids have told me that the tunnel is too long to hold your breath for’’.
‘‘If you are walking through at the same time as people smoking in there, it is extremely unpleasant and many school parents have complained to me,’’ she said.
In August Darrow lodged a request with Auckland Council to have no-smoking signage installed and in October received confirmation that signs could not be installed because the underpass does not fit into any category for smokefree status in council’s policy. Darrow said council confirmed with her that the 2013 policy is under review following a number of issues making certain places smokefree.
‘‘We would love to see the pedestrian tunnel become smokefree as it is a highly utilised pedestrian route by local workers and students from both One Tree Hill College and Ellerslie School,’’ Darrow said.
Auckland Council social policy and bylaws manager Michael Sinclair said train stations are smokefree but the policy does not include pedestrian walkways, which includes the underpass. He said over the next few weeks, it will investigate smokefree sign options at the Ellerslie underpass. Any implementation would happen in 2017, he said.
Rachael Smith is a regular user of the Ellerslie underpass and believes it should be smokefree.