While smoking is frowned upon almost anywhere in New Zealand these days, I think banning passengers from lighting up at bus stops and train stations is the wrong approach.
Our story on Page A4 today explains how researchers from the University of Otago are calling for New Zealand bus stops and train stations to be smoke free, in a bid to protect people from second-hand smoke.
Tauranga City Council will release its draft smoke free policy for public consultation next month, including a proposal for anti-smoking signs at bus shelters.
While I agree smoke free is ideal in any situation, I think the money could be better spent in other ways. The cost of communicating the message to the community, and the signage required for the hundreds of bus stops, would be better spent supporting and encouraging initiatives that help smokers to quit.
Services such as Quitline, a phone helpline for smokers wanting to give up, are growing each year and need support to provide a service which in the long run benefits the whole community.
Under the Government's national health targets, hospital staff are also required to give smokers admitted to hospital help, information and advice to quit.
Both initiatives address the problem at the source.
Under the policy it would it be up to bus users to point out the smoke free signs to rebel smokers and hope they abide.
In 2013 everyone knows the dangers of smoking, both to the smoker themselves, and those around them. If someone feels comfortable lighting up in a crowded bus stop on a rainy day, I struggle to see how a sign will change their behaviour.
Above all, smokers need to take some of their own social responsibility and ensure they are far enough away from others to prevent them inhaling second hand smoke.