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Govt had no option but to ban spray cans

Press Release

15 February 2008

Newmarket Business Association


Govt had no option but to ban spray cans

The only business precinct in Auckland that has successfully eradicated graffiti says it is good news that the Government is to ban under 18-year-olds from buying spray cans, but says given many overseas precedents it had no really choice.

“The Government had to introduce the ban otherwise its strategy would have been seen as too soft and behind the eight ball internationally,” said Cameron Brewer, general manager of the Newmarket Business Association.

“Many of us have long advocated for a ban given it has been done in New South Wales, the United Kingdom, and in many parts of the United States. Anything short of that would have been seen as a government protecting the rights of the violators over those being violated.

“While there are some good initiatives in the strategy, studies show nothing is more effective in the war on graffiti than painting it out as soon as it happens.”

Mr Brewer said Newmarket has shown over the past year what can be achieved with its much celebrated zero tolerance strategy. Tags in Newmarket are removed within hours and only matching paint is used. Auckland’s leading retail district has effectively wiped out graffiti by bringing in a professional and daily eradication service.

“New South Wales has some really tough legislation in place for some time. It also bans under 18-year-olds from purchasing spray cans and forces retailers to display spray cans behind lock and key.*

“In fact in NSW they’re now looking at even getting tougher with NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos recently announcing that the NSW is now considering a complete ban on the sale of spray paint.

“In the United Kingdom, spray paint sales to people under-16 has been banned since 2003, after the British Parliament passed the Anti-social Behaviour Act.

“Chicago’s mayor Richard Daley launched the very tough Graffiti Blasters initiative which has since gained much praise. In fact in 1992 Chicago passed a law banning the sale and possession of spray paint, and certain types of etching equipment and markers outright.

“In the mid-1990s as part of New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s crackdown on graffiti and other crime the sale of aerosol spray-paint can was banned to under 18-year-olds. The law - still enforce - also requires that merchants who sell spraypaint must lock it in a case or display cans behind a counter, out of reach of potential shoplifters. The sale of spray cans to minors has also been banned in California.

“However I suspect what made New Zealand Government officials initially nervous about introducing a ban was the case in 2006 when New York City tried to lift the age, and make it illegal for a person under the age of 21 to possess spray-paint or permanent markers. After a very high-profile case, a judge effectively overturned the 21-year limit, declaring that there was ‘no rational basis to single out 18-year-olds, 19-year-olds and 20-year-olds more than any other group in the adult population’.

“There are many international studies that show minors make up the majority of taggers, so banning young people from buying spray cans will be a useful tool. However it won’t be the panacea to our problems.

“If you can’t catch or stop taggers, the most effective way to take the wind out of their sails is to paint out their handy work as soon as it appears. Let’s not forget that their whole modus operandi is to be noticed,” said Cameron Brewer.

ENDS

* www.graffiti.nsw.gov.au

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