New Plymouth looks to ban smoking in open areas
By ROCHELLE WEST - Taranaki Daily News | Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Smoking in New Plymouth's parks, playgrounds, sports grounds and walkways is set to be stubbed out.

Last night, the New Plymouth District Council policy committee went against its own officers' recommendations and backed a smokefree public parks policy.

The full council will make a final decision about the smokefree proposal on August 28.

Council officers had recommended that wider public consultation was needed about the smokefree policy and that should be carried out in 2009 as part of the council's next 10-year plan.

While not a ban, smokers would be requested through signs and publicity not to light up in council-owned open areas. Such a policy would be similar to that of the South Taranaki District Council, which in 2005 became the first council in New Zealand to make the district's parks and playgrounds smokefree.

Mayor Peter Tennent led the smokefree charge last night.

"We do not have the ability to give out fines or to put people in prison if they smoke. But by having the sign that has the smokefree logo, it gives the ability for someone sitting in Pukekura Park at the cricket to have a word to the person, or point at the person who is smoking in front of them," he said. "I think it's important that we give a signal as a community of what we think is acceptable in and around our children."

At least two councillors are unlikely to support the mayor's stance at the council meeting.

Councillor Heather Dodunski had sympathy for smokers.

Legislation already stopped smokers from lighting up in pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes - without making parks smokefree too, she said.

"Why should it be the council's role to become Big Brother? Do we have to legislate for everything?"

Councillor Elaine Gill supported Ms Dodunski's stance. "I think we are using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut. Smoking is a legal activity."

From here .