News | 31 May 2016

Council rolls out Capital's Smokefree Action Plan for World Smokefree Day

Wellington’s action plan to support the Government’s goal for New Zealand to be smokefree by 2025 was launched today by Mayor Celia Wade-Brown.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and Associate Minister of Health Hon. Sam Lotu-Iiga at the launch of the Capital's Smokefree Action Plan.

“Smokers are being asked to consider others and respect designated smokefree areas in a non-regulatory approach by Council,” says Mayor Wade-Brown.

“This approach acknowledges smoking is addictive and many smokers want to quit, but need to feel supported not stigmatised,” she says. 

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says she is delighted to launch the Smokefree Wellington Action Plan.

“Becoming a smokefree city is a really important and positive step for Wellington. As a city we value our fresh air and quality of life. Smoking destroys lives and I encourage all Wellingtonians to help make our city smokefree.”

“The fewer places our young people see others smoking, the less likely they are to take it up,” she says. 

Councillor Paul Eagle, chair of the committee responsible for city’s social policy fully supports extending smokefree areas but said the time had come to be bolder with our aspirations.

“We want to become the first smokefree Capital in the world. 5,000 Wellingtonians smoke, that’s less than 10% – the lowest rate in New Zealand – and we’ve got under 10 years to make it happen. We can do it”, he says.

Highlights of the Council’s Action Plan include making more areas around the city smokefree, such as: Civic Square, bus stops, the Botanic Garden, Waitangi Park, Council housing, Council operated community centres, pools, recreation centres, building entrances, and laneways. A number of cafés are already included within these areas and the Council will work with café owners to make more outdoor dining smokefree.

Cr Eagle also mentions, “We’re not going to take a heavy handed approach here, instead we’re challenging all Wellingtonians – smokers and non-smokers – to help each other out.”

Cr Eagle says smoking kills more than 50% of smokers and each year around 4,500 New Zealanders die because they took up smoking. The direct cost to the health system is estimated to be around $2 billion per year and exceeds tobacco-related tax revenue. Wider costs to society are estimated at $10 billion due to smoking-related illness and premature mortality. [1]

“Smoking in our Māori and Pasifika communities in a particular concern where smoking rates are still as high as 33 percent”, he says.

With strong public support and an extensive network of community places and spaces local councils are well placed to promote and support the Government’s Smokefree 2025 goal. An opinion survey conducted last year by the Council indicated overwhelming public support for smokefree playgrounds and sports parks, and for extending Wellington’s smokefree areas. 

The majority of smokers were also supportive and observational surveys showed that smokers were respecting smokefree areas. 

The Council has created an illustrative smokefree campaign as an essential part of the non-regulatory approach. The campaign was created with Wellington Gold Award nominees Storybox, and the League of Live Illustrators.

[1] Health Effects of Smoking – Ministry of  Health