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All playgrounds across Dunedin should be declared smokefree, with signs installed to remind parents watching over their children not to light up, Public Health South says.
The submission came from Anna Frost, a Public Health South health promotion adviser, on the final day of the Dunedin City Council annual plan hearings yesterday.
Ms Frost said other councils across New Zealand were moving to declare their playgrounds smokefree, and Dunedin should follow suit.
About 100 signs, together costing about $9000, would be needed to cover the city's parks, documents presented by Ms Frost showed.
The policy would not require policing, with the signs themselves believed to be sufficient to discourage smoking, she said.
"It is, however, a mark in the sand in terms of what makes a well community."
The community already supported a smokefree environment, she believed, and the council already provided for an active and health community through the provision of recreational spaces, she said.
Prohibiting smoking in playgrounds would only enhance that, she said.
"It's for this very reason we urge you to commit to smokefree playgrounds."
Responding to a question from Cr Andrew Noone, she said it appeared "unlikely" central government would move to force councils to act, but she believed councils should.
Cr Bill Acklin acknowledged many parents did not want their children to smoke, "but they still choose to smoke, and legally they can".
"Where do you suggest they should smoke?"
Cr Kate Wilson wondered whether the council would be better prohibiting smoking on the streets rather than prioritising parks, which at least was a healthier environment.