Smok­ers ig­nore play­ground signs

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By SOPHIE LEGGETT

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.

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