Wellington's beaches will go smoke free after a vote by councillors today.

The city's beaches and the Grey St pedestrian area in the central city will go smokefree later this year.

The move is part of an update to Wellington City Council's Smokefree Action Plan, which confirms the council's commitment to the Smokefree Aotearoa goal that fewer than five per cent of New Zealanders be smokers.

The beaches will be smoke free from late September and the Grey St area alongside Lambton Quay will also become smoke free once construction work to upgrade the area is completed in the next few months.

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Councillor Brian Dawson, who holds the council's social development portfolio, said the plan is not about being punitive.

"While we are designating these areas 'smokefree' we're not going to be coming in waving a big stick and punishing smokers. Our approach is based on education and positively reinforcing the stop smoking message," he said.

People will be unable to light up a cigarette at Oriental Bay. Photo / Mark Mitchell.
People will be unable to light up a cigarette at Oriental Bay. Photo / Mark Mitchell.

"Wellingtonians in general are thoughtful people and respect the smoke free areas we already have and we believe the same will be true for these new areas."

To help educate the public, new smokefree signs and an online map will be developed to better inform people about all the smokefree areas.

Existing smoke free areas in Wellington city include playgrounds, skate parks, sports fields, bus stops, Waitangi, Midland and Truby King parks, the Botanic Garden, Otari-Wilton's Bush, Bolton Street Cemetery, Civic Square, the zoo and Zealandia, and entrances to all council buildings including libraries and swimming pools.

Beaches and the Grey St pedestrian area are added in the updated Action Plan.

Laneways are smoke free on a case-by-case basis.

A council survey last year of 2269 people found nine out of 10 non-smokers and almost half of smokers support Wellington becoming increasingly smoke free.

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The council agreed to amend the wording of the Action Plan to recognise that vaping can be an effective tool to help people stop smoking – and that the council wants to encourage that.

At the same time the council wants to encourage vapers to avoid vaping in smokefree areas as a courtesy to other users of the space.