Council housing takes next smokefree step

29 May 2015

To celebrate World Smokefree Day – this Sunday 31 May - and in response to tenant requests, Wellington City Council’s City Housing unit has declared all communal areas in its housing complexes smokefree.

The policy means all entranceways, hallways, stairways, mailrooms, service areas, laundry rooms, stairways, gardens, playgrounds and car parks are now smokefree.

Smokefree signage has been installed across City Housing’s communal areas. The new policy, effective from 31 May, has been communicated to tenants since March this year. 

“The negative effects of smoking on people are well known and we can’t argue with science,” says Councillor Paul Eagle, Chair of the Community, Sport and Recreation Committee. “We have received many complaints from tenants about smoking in communal areas. We realise that it might take a while to become fully smokefree, but we are pleased to advise our tenants that we are on our way to healthier living spaces.”

The Council has a long term goal of its housing becoming smokefree by 2025, in line with the Aspire goal of a smokefree Aotearoa. Analysis completed by City Housing in 2012 looked at the health issues for tenants and also the impact on the Council’s assets of smoke damage, cleaning, and smoking-related fires, over a five year period.

“The benefits of being smokefree became pretty clear,” says Cr Eagle.

City Housing has been ensuring tenants know how to access free quit smoking services in recent years as part of its ongoing tenant wellbeing work. It sought a mandate from the tenant community before widely prohibiting smoking. 

Since 2014 the Council’s new-build properties and upgraded properties are smokefree inside and in outdoor community spaces. Designated smoking areas are provided outdoors, so tenants or their visitors can smoke away from others.

Many tenants who smoke are supportive of the decision to go smokefree in the buildings.

  • City Housing sees four key benefits in making the communal areas and newly upgraded complexes smokefree:
  • Tenant health improves by reducing second-hand smoke
  • Children’s exposure to second-hand smoke is reduced, which is better for their health and reduces the likelihood of them taking up smoking
  • Costs of additional cleaning of litter and asset damage are reduced
  • Tenant satisfaction will increase, as a majority do not want smoking around their homes.