ICC failing on smoke-free CBD, says health adviser

Invercargill needs to fulfil promises about being smoke-free in its CBD.

That was a key message from the National Public Health Service policies adviser Laura Pope on Friday, when she gave a presentation to the Invercargill City Council during its long-term plan hearing.

In June 2020, the council approved a policy to make a number of public areas smoke-free in the hope it would promote a healthier environment and reduce young people’s exposure to the activity.

That included the CBD, where the council said it would target signage.

But Ms Pope said that had appeared to go by the wayside in the wake of recent upgrades.

"You have worked hard to create an environment in the city centre that promotes healthy behaviours and attitudes towards smoking and vaping, to create a space that is safe for whānau.

"We feel the smoke-free, vape-free CBD is no longer well-recognised in Invercargill, and feel the messaging needs to be better promoted."

Ms Pope said the council should implement signage throughout the CBD, and strongly suggested promotional work be undertaken to make the community aware.

"Since the council have improved the landscape of Esk St, it appears there is no smoke-free, vape-free signage."

Other areas including the South City shopping centre should be considered for a smoke-free status when the council reviewed its policy, she said.

Mana whenua representative Pania Coote supported the smoke-free stance, but asked how it could be policed.

Ms Pope said that while the policy was not enforceable, signs and promotional work created awareness.

"[For] a majority of people that smoke nowadays, it’s an addiction, and we don’t think it should be policed," Ms Pope said.

Areas covered by the council’s current smoke-free policy include all council-owned parks and reserves, playgrounds and sports fields, Splash Palace (including its carpark) and the Queens Park aviary and animal reserve.

 - LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.