"Smokefree" areas in Christchurch will now be "vapefree".
Christchurch City Council today voted to expand its existing Smokefree Public Places policy to include vaping.
It covered publicly owned areas which included neighbourhood parks, gardens and heritage parks, reserves, sports parks, playgrounds, bus passenger shelters, primary entrances and exits of council buildings and facilities (including libraries and recreation and support centres), licensed footpaths for outdoor dining use, and council events.
The vote comes as new legislation - the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (vaping) Amendment Act 2020 – begins to come into effect.
That prohibits the sale of vaping products to people under 18, bans vaping indoors at workplaces, restaurants, and licensed premises, bans vaping at schools and early childhood centres, bans most advertising and sponsorship of vaping, restricts flavours, and requires retailers mostly to not encourage the use of vaping products.
As part of the Christchurch City Council's Smokefree and Vapefree Public Places Policy, new signage will be installed to indicate "smokefree and vapefree zones" where possible and appropriate.
While the policy did not explicitly ban vaping – or smoking – and there would be no "vaping police", council staff said it was designed to "change behaviour and encourage a healthy lifestyle".
It would rely on "social pressure" for it to work.
Deputy Mayor Andrew Turner said at the time the council adopted its original smokefree policy in 2009, vape products were "practically unheard of", and had quickly increased in popularity since then.
"It's important to note the policy is voluntary and only applies to certain areas, but it also important to note that it works," he said.
Councillors Anne Galloway and Melanie Coker called the addition of vaping "no-brainer".
Despite the expanded policy being adopted, six councillors voted against it: Aaron Keown, Catherine Chu, Tim Scandrett, Pauline Cotter, James Gough and Sam MacDonald.
Aaron Keown said while he was "hugely in favour of the smokefree policy" he said he struggled with vaping being added as many people used it as a tool to get away from smoking.
He was also concerned about council "over-reach".
James Gough said there was already "common sense" in the community around this issue, and the council did not need to get more involved.
A move to ask staff to investigate extending the policy to other areas in Christchurch, including central city mall areas, beaches, open carparks failed, nine votes against and seven votes for.
The Cancer Society's Amanda Dodd told the council before the vote while she acknowledged that vaping could help people to stop smoking, it was not harmless.
"Vaping products are not meant to be lifestyle products."
She was also concerned about the rise in young people vaping. School leaders say they have seen a "significant increase".
"The long-term health impact of vaping is unknown at this stage."