Streets go ‘down’ in smoke

The Tribune (NZ) - - THE TRIBUNE - RICHARD MAYS

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.

PHOTO: MURRAY WIL­SON/FAIRFAX NZ

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.

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