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March 8, 2010 | by  | in News |
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WCC to take smoke out of the (smaller) big smoke

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No smokey smokey!

The smell of surrounding flora may be the only thing in the air soon after a proposal to make all parks and playgrounds in Wellington smoke-free was presented to the Wellington City Council.

Following similar measures implemented by over thirty other councils around New Zealand, the Cancer Society and Regional Public Health jointly submitted the recommendation to the WCC’s Strategy and Policy committee for consideration.

The proposal includes recommendations that shy away from making the policy a law enforcement issue, saying, “an educational policy is favourable”.

“There is no requirement to the police. Rather, it is more about changing peoples’ attitudes.”

Sponsors of the proposal emphasise the importance of reducing smoking in areas that children frequent to stop young people from seeing smoking as acceptable and normal.

Leanne Toledo of the Cancer Society says that while other legislation has removed smoking from workplaces, it is imperative to focus on public spaces where it is visible to children.

“This policy will help to make smoking a less normal activity, as people won’t be lighting up in any area. Parks and playgrounds in particular are about enjoying the environment, and they need to be safe.”

According to information taken from the WCC website, the petition to ban smoking along the Golden Mile had gathered 672 votes in support before it was presented to the Council, while at the time of print the petition to allow smoking had 32 signatures.

Toledo rejects the idea that the smoke-free parks and playgrounds proposal is an infringement on personal freedoms.

“It’s unacceptable to appear publicly without clothes on. It’s also unacceptable to create a noise nuisance in shared areas. These activities are legal and normal in certain environments, however in public places it is socially agreed upon that this doesn’t happen. It would be the same with smoking.”

The proposal doesn’t seek to discriminate against smokers in public she said, only to restrict the activity of smoking.

“It’s about the behaviour, not the person.”

Opponents of the proposal are wary that such legislation would try to criminalise an otherwise legal activity.

Opponent of the proposal Quentin Sciascia submitted an e-petition to the WCC to “counteract the rhetoric” of another e-petition which suggested banning smoking along Wellington’s ‘Golden Mile’. In his petition to continue allowing smoking along the Golden Mile, Sciascia said that “smoking is not illegal, nor should it ever be”.

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