Smokers ignore playground signs
Despite a sign at the playground under the Canopies reminding smokers ‘‘we copy what we see’’, people are continuing to light up around children playing nearby.
In 2010, Porirua City Council deemed all playgrounds and parks smokefree, stating that the restriction was about protecting children.
The thinking behind the policy was that reducing young people’s exposure to smoking would make it seem less ‘‘ normal’’, and would ultimately reduce the number of young people taking up the habit.
The council said it wasn’t a judgement of smokers, and wasn’t telling people not to smoke, but rather where they should not.
Christine Jacobson, a council senior policy analyst, said the council decided to take an educational rather than enforcement approach in terms of policing the rule.
This meant the council had no say about whether people took notice of the policy, and could not do anything to stop people lighting up next to a park or playground.
Instead, the council hoped – perhaps ambitiously – that the policy would be enforced by the public, who would ask those lighting up in a smokefree area to smoke elsewhere.
Leilani Daymond, who was looking after her niece at the playground last week, said she didn’t support smoking in any play areas.
‘‘We don’t smoke in front of the kids. I don’t agree with it,’’ she said.
‘‘It would be good if there was a space for smokers to watch their kids and smoke at the same time . . . the biggest thing is for the kids to have fun.’’
City councillor Euon Murrell said the policy was a way to manage smoking, but there had been talk of a bylaw banning smoking under the Canopies.
‘‘As people are becoming more and more intolerant of smoking, it could be a possibility,’’ he said.
‘‘The fact is, a complete ban on smoking would be the only way to stop people. I think it should be a smokefree area.’’
Porirua City has 42 sports grounds and more than 40 playgrounds.
The council policy is that smokefree signage be prioritised to the most frequented areas.
Jacobson said the council had continued to put up signage after the introduction, including by the Canopies playground.
‘‘At the time of introducing the policy, this playground was not on the signage rollout list, but signage was subsequently installed,’’ she said.
The sign appears to be largely ignored, with many parents smoking while watching their children play, and workers smoking outside nearby businesses.
Murrell said the Canopies area was considered an outside area, so people were free to smoke there.
Chirag Patel, who works at Centre Food Store Dairy, underneath the Canopies, said although he didn’t agree with smoking at the playground, he questioned where the line could be drawn in terms of where it was and wasn’t permitted.
He also wondered how people could be persuaded to stop.
‘‘ Can you stop the parents from smoking? No. You could try to stop it, but it’s not going to work,’’ he said.
Jacobson said the council had not reviewed the effectiveness of the policy.
No smoking: The Porirua City Council sign at the playground under the Canopies is so small it is easy to miss.