Smoke-free policy adopted

The Central Otago District Council's new smoke-free policy for council playgrounds - adopted on a motion moved by the council's two smokers - will not be enforced.

Cr Martin McPherson moved the resolution at yesterday's council meeting, Cr John Lane seconded it and councillors adopted the policy.

"It's probably appropriate that the two smokers on council are the ones moving this," Cr McPherson said.

Council chief executive, Phil Melhopt, said smoke-free signs would be put up and the policy would be "self-policing" with a "goodwill approach" taken.

The idea came from the Southern Primary Health Organisation and the Cancer Society. Although the council endorsed the smoke-free playground policy, it stepped back from suggesting there should be a ban on smoking within the playground boundaries.

In his report to the council, Mr Melhopt said smoke-free should mean "no person shall smoke any tobacco product" within the playground, but Cr Steve Battrick successfully promoted an amendment saying smoking in that area should be "discouraged."

"I think the word `shall' gives rise to the expectation, and rightly so, that it is going to be enforced. If it's not, that wording is wrong," he said.

Cr McPherson said whether the policy was enforced or not, "peer pressure" would work well.

"If people are smoking there, someone will come up and point out the signs that say it's a smoke-free area." Southern PHO health promotion co-ordinator Sarah Berger said the smoke-free policy was good role-modelling for children, and would also result in less littering from cigarette butts in playgrounds.

A survey of district residents earlier this year showed 92% support for playgrounds to be smoke-free, she said.

A total of about 80 people responded to the survey. Cancer Society health promotion co-ordinator Diana Power said the next step would be to push for the district's sports grounds to be smoke-free.

lynda.van.kempen@odt.co.nz

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