Polling backs smokefree bylaws

By Martin Johnston

Survey finds majority support for enforced ban over voluntary approach considered by council.

Greg Edwards. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Greg Edwards. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Imposing bylaws to ban smoking in public places has won majority support in an opinion poll designed to help Auckland Council decide what areas will be declared "smokefree".

Fifty-eight per cent of those surveyed, who were from four South Auckland local board areas, favoured bylaws and fines, while 31 per cent favoured voluntary "smokefree" areas, the technique used by many councils in their parks and playgrounds. The rest said their answer depended on other factors, were undecided or refused to answer.

Of the 330 non-smokers in the survey, 64 per cent favoured bylaws. Of the 70 smokers, 38 per cent favoured bylaws and 45 per cent favoured voluntary smokefree areas.

Aside from the question of voluntary or bylaw control, the survey found at least 60 per cent support among smokers for smokefree areas to be declared at bus stops and train stations, near building entrances and at children's playgrounds.

All nine categories of public places won 58 to 94 per cent support among the total sample for being declared smokefree. Three categories dipped below 50 per cent support among smokers: footpaths outside local shops, town centres and beaches.

Fifty-nine per cent of non-smokers and 25 per cent of smokers said they would be more likely to go to outdoor eating places at restaurants, pubs or cafes if they were smokefree. Eight per cent of non-smokers and 17 per cent of smokers said they would be less likely to go.

The report says the public have "given a clear mandate" for bylaws enforced by fines.

The survey was commissioned by the Cancer Society's Auckland division, whose chief executive John Loof said that for the council to meet its smokefree targets, smokefree areas needed to go beyond parks and playgrounds and into the other areas where the poll found high public support.

"We need to move into these high density and frequently used areas such as transport hubs, outdoor eating areas, building entrances and town centres."

The division's health promotion manager Beth Jenkinson said that although the council was at present considering only the voluntary approach, "we are asking that bylaws are kept on the agenda. They have got these quite big goals ... and at some point they might need to review that and utilise a bylaw".

Such bylaws in Australia had proved to be virtually self-policing, she said, and very few people flouted them and incurred fines.

Papakura Local Board chairwoman Hine Joyce-Tahere said her board was split on the issue of smokefree bylaws. She favoured a staged introduction.

The Herald asked smokers on Albert St yesterday if smoking should be banned on city streets.

"I think they should ban smoking altogether," said Greg Edwards, a 24-year-old single parent, of Parnell. "Smoking's bad for everything. Kids watch us smoking. Kids start at school [because they think] it's cool. If there's no smokes to be cool, it would be over. As simple as that."

Sabrina Tupu, 18, of Onehunga, said of a street-smoking ban: "I think it's fair [but only] if there's designated spots for smokers to smoke because smokers do need a smoke. It is an addiction. If someone's on a lunch break and there's nowhere to smoke it would be hard for them; they don't want to go home for a smoke and come back to work."

- NZ Herald

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