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Wellington city beaches to become smoke-free

Wellington City Council has voted to make the capital’s beaches smoke-free, but councillors will discuss what to do about vapers later this month.

The plan expands on the smoke-free areas already present in Wellington’s city area. Photo: 123rf.com

At a council meeting yesterday, councillors voted to make the beaches in the city, and Grey Street, near Lambton Quay, smoke-free.

The plan expands on the smoke-free areas already present in the city – parks, playgrounds, sports fields, bus stops, and the Civic Square.

While the council couldn’t stop people smoking, signs would tell people the area was smoke-free.

Councillor Nicola Young said while in principle she didn’t agree with bylaws that couldn’t be enforced, statistics showed smoking rates dropped to about two percent in smoke-free areas, compared with rates of fourt to 10 percent in areas that weren’t smoke-free.

The policy did originally include making smoke-free areas vape free but a Māori public health unit worker told the council she disagreed with that stance.

Hāpai te Hauora research and communications coordinator Elizabeth Strickett said there was already a lot of misinformation about vaping, but the evidence was that it was 95 percent less harmful than smoking.

Māori and Pasifika people vaping as a transition away from cigarettes had reported misinformation as the biggest issue they had while trying to stop smoking.

Ms Strickett told the council she was worried people might see vaping as being as harmful as smoking, instead of a safer alternative.

Councillor Brian Dawson said he had started smoking when he was 14, and it was because he was surrounded by smokers.

He said he did not want to see vaping taken up by young people for the same reason.

Mr Dawson said an iwi health group based in Wellington had told him they had concerns children would see their parents vaping, and take it up.

The council needed to be cautious in its messaging, and not lump smoking and vaping together, he said.

-RNZ