An official launch event will be held at 1pm May 30, hosted by the Cancer Society and featuring speakers Grant Robertson MP for Wellington Central, Councillor Paul Eagle and Paula Snowden CEO Quitline, and other performances. Radio stations The Hits and ZM will also feature with live crosses, interviews and prizes.
A call for public comment was met with widespread approval of the initiative. Of the 31 responses, 27 were positive, three were negative and one was mixed.
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says becoming Smokefree will improve people's experience in the Golden Mile's busiest green space.
“Midland Park is a well-loved oasis in the heart of our busiest shopping and commercial district. We’re making this move for healthy hearts, healthy lungs and healthy people,” she said. “It’s far more attractive to eat lunch and relax without tobacco smoke. This is good for business and good for health.”
Councillor Paul Eagle, chair of the Community, Sport and Recreation Committee, says that with more than 80 percent of people in Wellington choosing not to smoke tobacco, people are understandably supportive.
“Wellingtonians have overwhelmingly told us that they want our inner city green spaces to be smokefree. Our declaration for Midland Park starts the process of considering other parks,” said Cr Eagle.
The proposal is supported by Wellington City Council, in partnership with the Cancer Society, The Smokefree Coalition and Regional Public Health. Council adopted a Smokefree Parks and Playgrounds Policy in June 2012 after extensive consultation.
Raewyn Sutton, Manager Health Promotion for Cancer Society Wellington, said they congratulated Wellington City Council for this initiative and are delighted to be able to support this exciting step towards the 2025 SmokeFree Aotearoa goal.
“This is a great example of how community and SmokeFree organisations can work together to achieve a healthier environment for Wellingtonians,” she said.
Smokefree Coalition Executive Director Dr Prudence Stone said setting policy for public spaces was the key role that every local government plays toward achieving New Zealand’s Smokefree 2025 goal.
“The local tobacco industry will try in vain to sabotage and undermine our vision,” Dr Stone said. “But Wellington City Council has shown with this policy that it represents the interests of parents and their children over and above this rogue in our midst.
“We hope Midland Park is just the beginning and with its success, that Wellington’s entire CBD, including its waterfront, will eventually be declared Smokefree.”
Paula Snowden, CEO Quitline, said: “We know that smoking prevalence is decreasing (from 20.7% prevalence in 2006 to 15.1% in 2013) and that’s something to really celebrate this World Smokefree Day. Creating smokefree environments has a key role to play within this.
“However, let’s not forget that there are areas in New Zealand where 40% of the population smokes. In these high prevalence communities tobacco is still very much the norm. And while it is great to see areas like Midland Park becoming smokefree, we need make sure that we are also reclaiming outdoor areas for non-smokers in these other high smoking prevalence communities.”
University of Otago’s Enjoy trial
People who currently smoke are encouraged to join the festivities and learn how they can stop smoking.
The University of Otago’s Enjoy trial will be setting up a small booth in the park on the 30th in conjunction with the Cancer Society and community smoking cessation groups.
It offers smokers the chance to sample a range of nicotine replacement therapies (including the mouthspray and inhalator which most smokers will not have tried before) under the guidance of an expert coach who will guide them on the best methods of using the therapies to maximise their beneficial effects and minimise unwanted side-effects.
The Enjoy trial is funded by the Ministry of Health as part of the Innovation Fund to help achieve the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Vision.