Council to review Smokefree Bylaw

By Zaryd Wilson

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Whanganui District Council
Whanganui District Council

A review of Whanganui District Council's Smokefree Bylaw has been given the go-ahead by councillors.

The bylaw, which was introduced in 2010, designates specific parks and reserves within the Whanganui District where people are prohibited from smoking at any time.

WDC is the only council in New Zealand to have such as bylaw.

Councillors held a workshop earlier this month to discuss the review and all seven councillors present agreed the bylaw should be reviewed alongside the Smokefree Policy to better align the two.

At Tuesday's meeting councillor Philippa Baker-Hogan questioned the effectiveness of the bylaw and whether council resources may be better directed to supporting other smokefree initiatives and its own policy.

"I really, really, strongly support the 2025 Smokefree Aotearoa initiative," she said.

The amount of Whanganui people who smoke has risen by two per cent to 19.3 per cent over the past three years.

She said the problem with the council's bylaw was it could not enforce it.

"It has no parent legislation to guide it."

"The only thing that is reducing smoking is standardised packaging and price hikes," she said.

Deputy mayor Hamish McDouall said the bylaw was required to be reviewed, so should be.

He said a bylaw did not have to be enforced rigidly but was enough to make people consider their actions, a point echoed by councillor Martin Visser.

"This is as much about the messaging that we are putting out there than it is about the actual teeth the bylaw has," Mr Visser said.

"We're trying to be a leading edge city, we should be leading in terms of people's health."

Mayor Annette Main said the council could either review the bylaw or revoke it.

"I think that sometimes the council does have to be brave. Six years ago we were brave. If we don't review this bylaw, the only other option is to revoke it and that would be a step back for this community."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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