First outdoor no smoking sign

The first sign alerting people to areas where smoking is now prohibited has been erected.

Councillor Maria Westphal and representatives from the Chances smokefree coalition were on hand to witness council staff putting up the sign at Hamilton Lake asking people not to smoke within 10 metres of the playground.

This follows Hamilton City Council's recent adoption of a "self-policing, educative" smoke-free policy, which sees smoking prohibited in Garden Place, Civic Square, Hamilton Transport Centre, Hamilton Gardens, within 10m of council playgrounds, council-owned or operated buildings, and around Waikato Hospital.

The council will work alongside Chances to introduce signs as well as educate the public about the policy.

About 35 more signs will be erected at playgrounds, Hamilton Gardens, the transport centre, Garden Place and Pembroke St in the next two months.

Chances comprises Hamilton City Council, smoking cessation specialists Aukati Kai Paipa and K'aute Pasifika, the Heart Foundation, Waikato District Health Board and Cancer Society.

Waikato/Bay of Plenty Cancer Society health promotion manager Melanie Desmarais said the Cancer Society and Chances were hoping to "denormalise smoking in our public areas, particularly where children and youth are".

"This is all about the kids and providing them with a future with less cancer.

"In New Zealand, the average age of smoking initiation is 14 for non-Maori and 11 for Maori.

"Many of these young smokers become addicted, resulting in half of all smokers dying from a smoking-related disease."

Melanie said the policy was also about helping to achieve a Smokefree nation by 2025, where less than 5 per cent of the population smoked.

"In order to achieve this we need to reduce the number of youth smoking and support more smokers to make more quit attempts."

Council strategy and policy committee chairperson Maria Westphal said "as a council we have a leadership role in our city to promote healthy smoke-free places where people know they won't be exposed to the dangers of second-hand smoke".

"The Government has set a goal of a smoke-free New Zealand by 2025, and it's important Hamilton steps up and does what it can to work towards this, promoting healthy smoke-free environments for all and particularly for our children.

"Our new policy is a step in the right direction, and with the city's smoke-free advocacy umbrella group Chances we will monitor over the next six months how the policy is working, with a view to extending the policy to other areas of the city."

- Hamilton News

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