Whangarei District Council (WDC) made history as the first of Northland’s three councils to introduce a comprehensive progressive smokefree policy. Councillors were applauded by the those present in the public gallery as they voted unanimously on the revised Smokefree policy that will see more outdoor public spaces becoming smokefree before the end of 2020.
The Smokefree policy aims to introduce the following smokefree outdoor public spaces by the end of 2020:
“This decision is a significant step towards achieving smokefree 2025 and, we acknowledge the support of Council and hope that other councils in Northland will follow suit,” says Jenni Moore, Manager Cancer Society Northland.
“It was really encouraging to hear from Councillor Anna Murphy who spoke with the Youth Advisory Group about the policy.They strongly supported increased smokefree outdoor public spaces, especially the inclusion of vape-free and smokefree beaches from an environmental perspective – reducing butt litter and plastic pollution,” says Bridget Rowse smokefree advisor Northland District Health Board.
WDC successfully introduced a Smokefree policy for parks, playgrounds and sports grounds back in 2010 and Smokefree bus shelters in 2014. Council’s social housing has progressively become smokefree as new tenants move in, and a number of other council-owned key city spaces such as the Aquatic Centre, the I-site at Tarewa Park, Central City Car Park, Clapham’s Clocks, Quarry Gardens and Kiwi North have also gone smokefree throughout this period.
In 2015 Council resolved that “staff draft a district-wide Smokefree policy that will include existing Smokefree policies and further reinforce Council’s contribution toward a smokefree Whangarei by 2025.”
Northland District Health Board and Cancer Society Northland were supported and guided by WDC to undertake public consultation with the Whangarei community to gauge community support for the proposed policies to increase smokefree outdoor public spaces. Over 1500 Whangarei residents responded to the survey, with almost 80 percent supporting increased smokefree outdoor public spacesand 82 percent in favour of smokefree outdoor dining.
The support for smokefree outdoor dining continued with the success of The Fresh Air Project Whangarei, with 94% of customer feedback supporting smokefree outdoor dining strong industry support with over 30 cafes now offering smokefree outdoor dining.
Expanding smokefree outdoor public spaces is a vitally important way of de-normalising smoking, protecting our children, supporting those trying to stop smoking and promoting healthy lifestyles.
To support compliance with the policy and to eliminate the confusion, smoking and vaping are both included in this policy. Other council’s throughout New Zealand have also extended their smokefree policies to include vaping. Vaping mimics smoking and its emissions can create a nuisance and may result in public confusion and reduced compliance. The Ministry of Health has stated that, the evidence on vaping indicates it carries much less risk than smoking cigarettes but is not risk free.