Streets go ‘down’ in smoke
Yesterday’s World Smokefree Day saw a double whammy for smokers.
First, the Tobacco Excise Bill adding 10 per cent a year excise tax on tobacco products for the next four years as announced in last Thursday’s Budget, has been passed by Parliament.
Second, the Palmerston North City Council launched itself as the first city in New Zealand to intro- duce smokefree rules for outdoor dining on its footpaths.
In order to obtain new council permits, the bylaw requires businesses using the pavement outside their premises as an outdoor dining area, to remove ashtrays and display smokefree signage.
Council policy analyst, Peter Ridge says 90 businesses were informed about the changes in the weeks before the bylaw was launched, and expects feedback from around 70 per cent of those. The new permits are due to be issued this month. Peter stresses that the bylaw is not a ban, and is aspirational rather than big stick.
‘‘It takes a softly softly approach focusing on education rather than compulsion. We are asking these businesses to promote smokefree as part of a positive image for the city. It’s a provision of their health and safety permit.’’
The signage is being supplied at no charge to the businesses.
The initiative follows last year’s review of the City’s Signs and Use of Public Places bylaw, and the smokefree move has caught the attention of other councils, including Wellington.
PNCC’s head of Environmental Protection Services, Wayne Jameson, says the bylaw builds on the council’s outdoor areas policy that resulted in smokefree signs placed within council facilities and in parks and reserves around the city. In 1989, the coun- cil was one of the first to enact a clean indoor air bylaw before government legislation was in place.
MidCentral Public Health Services health promoter, and chair of the Tobacco Free Central coalition, Julie Beckett congratulated the council for being the first in New Zealand to discourage smoking in public places by means of a bylaw. Julie believes the move will make outdoor dining a more pleasant and healthy experience for everyone.
City Councillor Rachel Bowen with members of the Smokefree Reference Group outside Thorne Coffee on George St with the new tabletop signage that the Palmerston North City Council requires for cafes with outdoor tables and chairs.