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Opotiki supports smokefree outdoors

PRESS RELEASE 27 March 2008


Opotiki supports smokefree outdoors

Opotiki District Council’s public outdoor spaces are now smokefree. With the support of Toi Te Ora - Public Health, the Cancer Society, and Health Sponsorship Council, the Council is asking public to refrain from smoking in council owned playgrounds, parks, sports fields, reserves, gardens and beaches. This also includes events held in council parks which will consistently be promoted as smokefree events. The aim of this council policy is to normalise non-smoking and encourage positive role models for both children and young people in Opotiki District. Signs, designed by local artist Jamie Boynton, are displayed in outdoor locations as a reminder to remain smokefree.

Jenna Clarke, Health Promoter, Toi Te Ora – Public Health, says “community enforced educational policies rely on community support and we have heard positive comments from smokers and non-smokers who support the policy”, she says. “This reinforces the message that we’re not targeting smokers, it’s about the health of our children, and having an environment that is protected from the effects of smoking”.

In January 2008, Toi Te Ora - Public Health staff members carried out a survey in Opotiki to gauge the public’s opinion about the smokefree policy. Over 200 surveys were completed. Of those surveyed, 69% said they think having a smokefree outdoor spaces policy is a good idea. Only 12% disagreed with the policy. 31% of the people surveyed in Opotiki are current smokers. Almost 80% said that smokers should not be able to light up in children’s play areas. Round two of the evaluation study in Opotiki will commence in May 2008 and will measure public opinion towards the Council’s policy. The current evidence shows there is widespread support for the educational smokefree policy even amongst smokers.

A recent national survey conducted by the Cancer Society found that two-thirds of all New Zealanders support the expansion of smokefree areas to outdoor areas children use. 70% of New Zealanders support local councils making their events 100% smokefree.

Opotiki District Council is the fourth council in New Zealand to have a smokefree public places educational policy.

ENDS


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