Ōpōtiki District Council is the latest council in the Bay of Plenty to extend its smoke-free outdoor spaces policy.

The extensive policy now includes the central business district, civic areas and beaches as smoke-free areas. The policy is based on a non-regulatory approach that aims to create behaviour change by promoting a positive smokefree message.

Toi Te Ora Public Health said in a statement it was celebrating local councils who had gone the extra mile to support their community, and the nation, to achieve Smokefree Aotearoa 2025.

Medical Officer of Health, Dr Jim Miller, commended the council's leadership in making more public places smokefree.

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"Smoke-free outdoor public spaces help create healthy supportive environments by normalising smokefree, supporting people trying to quit smoking, and reducing exposure to second hand smoke," Dr Miller said in a statement.

The Eastern Bay of Plenty Smokefree Coalition and Toi Te Ora Public Health supported extending smoke-free outdoors spaces through submissions to the council's 2018-28 long term plan.

A collaborative approach was taken by the council to engage the local community and listen to their views.

Ōpotiki beaches are smoke free. Photo / File
Ōpotiki beaches are smoke free. Photo / File

This involved a series of public engagement workshops, and collating community voice via social media, as well as online and written submissions.

According to mayor of Ōpōtiki, John Forbes, the feedback showed strong support for a smoke-free Ōpōtiki.

"We spoke to our community about the proposal to extend smoke-free areas from just Council-owned areas (playgrounds and so on) to the whole CBD and beaches. The feedback we got was overwhelmingly in support of extending the smoke-free areas – many mentioned how important it was for their children and grandchildren not to be around smoke in their everyday lives. Many others mentioned the issue of endless cigarette butts in the streets.

"The policy also sends a strong message backing up our clean, green image to future visitors to the district," Forbes said.

Rotorua Lakes Council, Kawerau District Council, Whakatāne District Council, Western Bay of Plenty District Council and Tauranga City Council also have smokefree outdoor spaces policies.

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