Kropp calls for smokefree beaches
For Bronwyn Kropp, the final straw was having ash flicked on her paperback.
The Porirua City councillor was relaxing on a packed area of sand at Karehana Bay, Plimmerton, last summer, when a woman sat down near her, smoking a cigarette.
‘‘She was no more than a metre away and her smoke and ash was all over me,’’ Kropp said.
‘‘ I have asthma and was coughing up a storm because of it. I came to the beach to enjoy the sun, feel the breeze and read my book and I had to put up with this.’’
At the end of the council’s Te Komiti meeting two weeks ago, Kropp raised the issue of declaring Porirua’s beaches smokefree.
Council officers will prepare a report on what it would take to achieve it.
Kropp said she hoped it was something that gathered support among her colleagues and the public. Liquor and dogs were banned from certain parts of Porirua, so smoking could be included, she said.
‘‘We [the council] have children and young people as the central part of our decision-making and this step [ to ban smoking] is another example of us being a positive leader for change.’’
Kropp said the city’s parks and sports fields were already designated smokefree areas and it was not a huge stretch to make beaches the same. There is no precedent for smokefree beaches in New Zealand, although Kropp understood Auckland Council was looking at it.
She is optimistic of support from Smokefree New Zealand and Regional Public Health and said slapping the distinctive smokefree labels on to existing council signage would not be onerous.
‘‘This is yet another way we can de-normalise smoking in our community. Along with the health issues about the harm smoking can cause, there is the fact the cigarette filters do not break down, so it becomes an environmental issue.’’
As far as policing a nonsmoking bylaw went, smoking at Porirua’s parks was not rigorously enforced, Kropp said, but had become widely known and discouraged.
Gary Simpson, the council’s chief executive, said though parks and reserves were council property, beaches were not.
However, it was a good ‘‘aspirational aim’’ and policy objective for the council, he said, and he was interested in seeing the officers’ report.
A spokeswoman for the regional council said that although much of the beach area was under its control, smokefree beaches was more a health issue than an environmental one.
She said local authorities should take the lead on it.
Porirua City councillor Bronwyn Kropp would love to see the city’s beaches designated smokefree areas.