Holiday beaches declared smokefree
By TOM FITZSIMONS - The Dominion Post
Last updated 05:00 30/10/2009

They have already been driven out of bars and off sports fields now smokers are set for a fight on the beaches.

Western Bay of Plenty District Council has made 30 of its prime coastal spots smokefree, including holiday destinations Waihi Beach, Maketu and Athenree.

But other councils say they have no plans to emulate the beachfront restriction, which cannot be enforced.

Western Bay of Plenty District Mayor Ross Paterson said he did not expect any problems from the move. "Nobody wants to take their kids to the beach to play in an ashtray."

The policy, which will also include the towns of Katikati and Te Puke, was not technically a ban, he said. "But it is a strong affirmation by this council to support a smokefree environment."

More than 20 local bodies have adopted outdoor smokefree policies, but Western Bay is only the third to include beaches. The other two are Gisborne and Opotiki.

Wellington city councillor Celia Wade-Brown, an ex-smoker who holds the council's environment portfolio, said the move was evidence that smoking was becoming more unacceptable. "I think it should be sending a message to smokers that they need to be more considerate."

Cigarette butts were a huge source of pollution in waterways and on beaches, she said.

Wellington had not yet initiated any smokefree policies apart from a bylaw banning smoking in Cable Car Lane. Beaches were not on the agenda, she said, but she supported smokefree policies for playgrounds and some green areas such as inner-city Midland Park.

A petition calling for smoking to be banned on the city's "golden mile" has gathered more than 600 signatures.

Earlier this month, Hutt City Council voted to introduce a smokefree policy in all council-owned playgrounds and swimming pool complexes. A similar approach has been in place in Upper Hutt since 2006.

Lower Hutt Mayor David Ogden said he would have preferred to be a "follower, not a leader" on such policies because they were impractical and not enforceable.

Kapiti Coast District Council spokesman Tony Cronin said the council had smokefree playgrounds, but no plans to act on beaches.

The aim of the council's ban was to set a good example for children not to reduce levels of smoke, he said.

Masterton Mayor Garry Daniell said the council had never considered banning smoking on Castlepoint and Riversdale beaches. "It's not as if the people there are in close proximity. But it's something we could look into."

Napier City Council said there were no plans to ban smoking on the area's stretch of beaches.

-With NZPA

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