Pavement puffing on inner city rules radar

By DANIELLE NICHOLSON

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Alfresco diners in Victoria and Hood streets will no longer be able to smoke if an expanded smokefree policy is implemented.

Councillors agreed last week to consider extending Hamilton City's smokefree policy to include Victoria and Hood streets, including alfresco dining.

Smoking is already prohibited in Garden Place and Civic Square, within 10 metres of playgrounds and council-owned or operated buildings, the transport centre and Hamilton Gardens, the streets immediately around Waikato Hospital, all bus stops and shelters and the east end of Ward St.

The incoming council will make a decision on the issue.

A recent council report acknowledges that "friendly enforcement" of the ban would be challenging given the link between smoking and evening entertainment. Friendly enforcement is advising smokers of the smokefree policy and suggesting they either put out their cigarette or move to an area where the ban doesn't apply.

The cost to provide enforcement within the city and at various sports fields on Saturdays is estimated at $94,000.

The cost is unbudgeted. Staff will investigate funding options and timeframes for enforcement resourcing for a one-year trial.

Hamilton News made attempts to contact the two major hospitality operators - Lawrenson Group and Phoenix Group - about their views on the proposal. Neither John Lawrenson nor Jason Macklow returned calls.

It is expected the earliest the Victoria/Hood St ban would be implemented would be early 2015 with a communication campaign starting from the middle of next year.

The policy will be expanded to include synthetic cannabis and herbal tobacco.

A smoking bylaw was floated; however, the practicalities of implementing one - particularly who would enforce it and how - were considered too difficult. Police also indicated they would not enforce a smoking bylaw or parts of it relating to synthetic cannabis.

Hamilton City area commander Inspector Greg Nicholls said it was behaviour associated with smoking synthetic cannabis that triggered police attention, but not the act of smoking.

A further stage in the smokefree policy could be a smokefree city which links in with the Government's "Smokefree New Zealand 2025" vision.

- Hamilton News

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