Strong public support for an increasingly smoke-free Wellington

24 November 2015

Wellington City Councillors will hear the results of a survey on extending Wellington’s outdoor smoke-free areas at this week’s Community Sport and Recreation committee meeting.

Over 1,000 people have been surveyed (1MB PDF) on their views on increasing smoke-free outdoor areas. The report identifies strong support for an increasingly smoke-free Wellington.  84% of people surveyed were in favour.  44% of smokers surveyed were in favour, versus 38% of smokers who were not.

Mayor Celia-Wade Brown says the Council has already designated many of its sports fields, playgrounds, skate parks, and Midland Park as smoke-free outdoor areas.

“We share Government’s goal for a smoke-free nation by 2025. This calls for greater action to be taken,” she says. The most preferred places for extending the ‘smoke-free’ designation include entrances to buildings accessed by the public (89%); bus stops (82%); the Wellington Botanic gardens (74%), and; Otari-Wiltons Bush (73%).

“Sharing a bus stop with someone who is smoking puts people off catching buses,” she says. “Cigarette butts wash-up on beaches and cannot be good for marine life.

“I do realise it is hard to quit smoking as I gave up when I was in my thirties,” she says.

”These days non-smokers are the new normal.”

The Zoo and Zealandia are already smoke-free as is new and refurbished Council housing (both inside and out), with designated smoking areas provided outdoors for tenants who smoke.  Communal areas of all council housing complexes are also smoke-free.

The Council is keen to work with the Government to further reduce the incidence of smoking in New Zealand.
Councillor Paul Eagle, Community, Sport and Recreation Committee Chair, says already less than one in ten (9.5%) adults in Wellington City smoke, compared to one in six (17%) for New Zealand.

“There’s support for balance and tolerance in smoke-free initiatives acknowledging that smoking is addictive and difficult to quit.”

“However, the positive feedback from the survey gives us the signal to explore further and consider how we could reduce this to less than 5% and make Wellington City smoke-free by 2025.”

Cr Eagle says the research undertaken affirms that smoke-free outdoor areas increase those attempting to quit, and outlines several principles and options for the Council to explore.

“Putting children and families first and ensuring they’ll be free from exposure to tobacco and tobacco use should underpin the City’s approach to being smoke-free.”

Additional research and observational data will be collected this summer, with the intention of reporting back to the committee in April 2016 with a proposal to designate additional smoke-free areas by World Smoke-free Day on 31 May.

There will be opportunities for further community input into the project in the New Year.