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Council to Encourage Smoke Free Parks


Council to Encourage Smoke Free Parks

In what may be a first in New Zealand, South Taranaki District Council’s Policy Development Committee on Monday, adopted a Smoke Free Policy, which includes encouraging people not to smoke in Council-owned parks and playgrounds.

South Taranaki Mayor, Mary Bourke, believed the Policy was a good one with a pragmatic approach. “It is not coming down on anyone with a big stick. We aren’t banning smoking in parks but by encouraging people not to smoke in our parks and playgrounds. We are recognising the dangers of smoking.”

Group Manager of Community Services and Development, Jan Martin, who helped develop the Policy, said it was about the Council making a stand in terms of desirable role modelling.

“The purpose of the Policy is to demonstrate leadership in promoting a positive message, that a smoke free lifestyle is both desirable and the norm in South Taranaki“, said Jan. “We know that we cannot ‘police’ aspects of this policy as such, but it is not about enforcement, it’s about leadership and role modelling.”

Jan went on to add that work done by the Taranaki Cancer Society, which identified that the outdoor areas of the New Plymouth and South Taranaki Pools were not smoke free was a motivating factor in developing the new Policy. “When the Cancer Society pointed this out it got me thinking about the messages we were or in this case, weren’t promoting. As a community leader, we have a responsibility to promote a healthy lifestyle,” she said.

The Policy also includes actions which would make all Council workplaces, vehicles, Council-owned enclosed public facilities [such as Halls] and Council-owned Swimming Pools, smoke free.

“The majority of pool users are children and by banning smoking at the pools children would not be exposed, on Council premises, to second-hand smoke, or role models who smoke”, said Jan.

As part of its Smoke Free Strategy, the Council has also decided to support business and pro-actively manage street litter by providing cigarette butt receptacles free of charge to identified licensed premises and at cost to any other business who may wish to purchase them.

Health Promoter representing the Wanganui-Rangitikei-Waimarino Cancer Society, Sue Stuart, was extremely excited to learn of the Council’s policy and the positive message it was sending to the South Taranaki community. “Lung cancer rates are on the increase. If we are to decrease tobacco related disease including that from second hand smoke, then making smokefree environments the norm is one of the most proactive ways to achieve this. Any activity that involves family should be in a healthy environment that role models positive behaviour,” says Mrs. Stuart. “I only hope that South Taranaki’s example has the potential to encourage and motivate other councils to act accordingly,” she said.

Taranaki Cancer Society counterpart, Christine Brouwers, was equally excited. “This is absolutely fantastic news. This is exactly the sort of ground breaking leadership that our communities need and deserve. The health of our nation depends on positive action such as this and I can’t commend the South Taranaki district Council enough for being so courageous. We are all very excited,” she said.

Jan is very positive about the public’s response to the Policy. “People attending February’s Paepae in the Park at Patea were asked not to smoke and the request was adhered to in the main, without complaint. It was very encouraging to see how willingly people responded and I hope that people can see what we are trying to achieve with this policy too.”

- ENDS -

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