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Auckland Council approves new smoke-free policy

Auckland Council approves new smoke-free policy
July 30, 2013

Auckland Regional Council has approved a new policy for the region that will incrementally make public outdoor spaces smoke free across Auckland, to help create a healthy city for all residents.

A smoke-free city is part of the Auckland Plan, which states "all parks and reserves, children's play areas and other public space identified in bylaws will be smoke free by 2025."

This aligns with the New Zealand Government's goal to be a smoke-free nation by 2025.

The policy aims to improve the health and well-being of Auckland's communities by reducing the prevalence of smoking and de-normalising smoking behaviour. It will focus on those most in need, as indicated by smoking prevalence and health statistics.

The Regional Development and Operations Committee (RDOC) approved the policy on 24th July after getting feedback from local boards and other stakeholders and presenting the draft policy to the Parks, Recreation and Heritage Forum on 14th May.

RDOC Deputy Chair Councillor Sandra Coney explains "an Auckland-wide smoke-free policy will create a healthier, more enjoyable city for all of Auckland's residents and visitors, especially our children.

"This approach enjoys wide public support. It is a huge step forward for Auckland.

"The council is starting with a non-regulatory policy that will be promoted through education and awareness using signage and other communications. This provides a less costly and more socially cooperative option and other authorities both within New Zealand and internationally have seen results from this approach. The council will monitor the impact of the policy on smoking rates across Auckland and will reconsider whether a bylaw is needed in 2016."

The policy will rely on social pressure from the public to encourage others to comply. Besides the health benefits, a smoke-free policy will help take butts out of the stormwater system, and assist in fire prevention.

Many Auckland parks and places are already smoke-free. This includes all regional parks, many local parks and playgrounds, Mt Smart, Eden Park and the zoo. There is a high degree of public support for these initiatives. Some local boards have made their own smoke-free commitments. This new smoke-free policy recognises these commitments and creates region-wide consistency.

The policy will be implemented in three phases. Stage 1 will see the following become smoke free from July 2013: outdoor facilities such as stadiums, swimming pools, playgrounds, skate parks, sports fields and parks and reserves; public outdoor areas associated with the council, including service centres, local board offices, libraries, community facilities and halls, museums, leisure, recreation and arts centres; and transport areas, including train stations and platforms, bus stations and shelters and ferry terminals.

Stage 2 will take effect on 31st May 2015 and will include shared spaces and all plazas and civic squares. Lastly, in Stage 3, subject to the policy review planned for 2016, the following public places will be smoke-free as of 31st May 2018: the areas around sports clubs (including clubs on council land not already covered by the public places above), 'al fresco' dining areas, urban centres, public beaches and common areas of council housing.





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