Wellington aims to be world's first smoke-free capital

Wellington City councillors have agreed to make the capital smoke-free by reducing smoking to less than 5 per cent by 2025. Photo / File
Wellington City councillors have agreed to make the capital smoke-free by reducing smoking to less than 5 per cent by 2025. Photo / File

Wellington aims to be the world's first smoke-free capital as smoke-free areas extend to public spaces such as bus stops and building entrances.

In a community, sport and recreation committee meeting held yesterday Wellington City councillors agreed to make the capital city smoke-free by reducing the prevalence of smoking to less than 5 per cent by 2025.

Beginning on May 31 on World Smokefree Day, a smoking ban will extend to Civic Square, bus stops, botanical gardens, Waitangi Park, council housing, council-operated community centres, pools, recreation centres, building entrances and designated council laneways.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said council footpath licences could encourage far more smoke-free outdoor dining.

This idea would be included for consultation as part of a planned review of the Footpath Management Policy this year.

Ms Wade-Brown said the city had the lowest rate of smokers in the country.

"Already less than 10 per cent of Wellingtonians smoke - the lowest rate in New Zealand.

"We can become the first smoke-free capital in the world by helping 5000 of our fellow Wellingtonians to become smoke-free over the next nine years," she said.

Community, sport and recreation committee chairman Paul Eagle supported the smoke-free extension.

"We need to take this seriously as the capital city and ensure we do everything we can to make Wellington smoke-free by 2025.

"It's not just the smokers' lives that are of concern; smoking has a huge impact on wider communities and especially that of Maori and Pacific communities, where smoking rates are still as high as 33 per cent," he said.

Observational surveys revealed the vast majority of smokers were respecting smoke-free areas and didn't smoke around children.

Smoking in some downtown areas has been observed at 13 per cent or more, but drops below 3 per cent when children are around

Little or no smoking was observed at sports grounds when kids were playing.

Wellington's playgrounds and sports parks went smoke-free in 2012.

Wellington City councillors also agreed to look at the possibility of a by-law against the littering of cigarette butts.

In 2011, the Government set a goal for New Zealand to be smoke-free by 2025, meaning a smoking rate of less than 5 per cent across all populations.

- NZ Herald

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