Waitangi Park Get-together to Promote Smokefree

29 August 2012

A get-together is planned at Waitangi Park playground this Sunday morning (2 September) to help highlight the benefits of smokefree sports parks and playgrounds.

Wellington City Councillors unanimously agreed in June that all of the city's 43 sports parks, 104 playgrounds and seven skate parks should be smokefree and signs will be gradually installed from this weekend, starting with the busiest parks and playgrounds.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, Smokefree Youth Ambassador Georgina Gatenby and Smokefree Coalition Director Prudence Stone will speak at the playground from about 10.15am about the change and why it makes sense not to smoke in areas used by children.

Regional Public Health and Cancer Society staff will be at the park providing information and smokefree giveaways to passers-by and playground users. And, to help promote the benefits of an active lifestyle, a Council Push Play coordinator will be at Waitangi Park until midday (weather permitting) with a trailer-load of sports equipment and games.

Mayor Wade-Brown says the Council, like other local authorities around the country, is taking an educational approach to encourage Wellingtonians not to light up in sports parks and playgrounds.

"We want children, who are playing sport or being active in our playgrounds, to be free from inhaling second-hand smoke or thinking that smoking is normal," says Mayor Wade-Brown. "Few smokers want to be setting that kind of example either, and this is about setting a good example and supporting smokefree future generations."

Cancer Society Wellington Division Chief Executive Officer Michael Smith commends the Council for taking this step.

"With central Government setting a goal for New Zealand to be smokefree by 2025, it's great to see local authorities playing a supporting role in achieving that goal."

The Council's Social Portfolio Leader, Councillor Stephanie Cook, says the proposal is not about telling smokers not to smoke, but encouraging people not to smoke around children.

"The average age that people start smoking in New Zealand is 14 years and research shows that there is a link between the extent that children and young people see people smoking and the likelihood that they will become smokers," she says. "Moves like this, which de-normalise smoking, are also helpful for people who want to give up smoking. Over time it has become increasingly unacceptable to smoke and that was what helped me to give up."