If our environment is supportive of good health, it's much easier for us to be healthy, and Healthy Families Whanganui Rangitikei Ruapehu is about making healthy choices easier where we live, learn, work and play.

There are some really proactive schools, workplaces, sports clubs, churches, marae and other settings that are doing great things to help support the health of our community from workplace wellness programmes, to water-only schools, smokefree environments and alcohol harm reduction initiatives.

We all have the ability to make small changes within our environment that collectively could make a big impact and, in our monthly column, we will profile some of the great things that are happening in our community and the people that have been leading healthy change.

In the past 20 years, there have been many milestones that have changed the landscape on our journey towards a Smokefree Aotearoa 2025. Gone are the days when teachers used to smoke in the classroom, people used to smoke in bars and clubs, even on the paepae at the marae, and cigarette companies sponsored all our major sports events.


We've come a long way - not quite far enough - but a long way nonetheless. Locally we've been proactive and, in some cases, leading the charge - the Tupoho complex that houses Tupoho Whanau Trust, Rangahaua Marae, Awa Fm, Te Oranganui Iwi Health Authority and other organisations has a green smokefree line around the whole complex.

The Whanganui council implemented the smokefree bylaw in 2010 covering 12 premier outdoor parks and reserves and, in 2014, implemented the smokefree outdoors policy covering the central city area.

Smokefree events in our community are now the norm rather than the exception and it's rare to see someone lighting up on the sideline these days while our kids play their Saturday morning sport.

But is there more that can be done? The answer to this is "Yes, most definitely".

Glasgow Street Dairy stopped selling smokes in 2014, and, at the time, that decision went viral on Facebook with a huge amount of community support for the move. TV3 news picked up the story which saw then associate minister of health and smokefree champion Dame Tariana Turia supporting the stand and encouraging others to follow suit.

The Glasgow Street Dairy owner hoped his decision would "inspire other dairy owners to ditch the ciggies and go smokefree" and, for the past two years, business has continued as usual despite the comment from a cigarette company assuring him it "wouldn't last".

He's happy to prove them wrong, and since the store stopped selling cigarettes, six family members and three community members have quit smoking because they couldn't buy smokes at the dairy.

Denormalising smoking in our community starts with all of us - we all have the ability to be brave, challenge the norm and put the health and wellbeing of our future generations first.

Becoming a smokefree community is not about ostracising smokers, it's about supporting those that are ready to commit to their smokefree journey, preventing our kids from starting and promoting an environment where access to cigarettes and tobacco is limited.

**If you, your business, organisation, sports club, marae, church, workplace or early childhood centre would like support to become smokefree, the team from Healthy Families Whanganui Rangitikei Ruapehu are here to help - visit our website.