Vaping, beaches, Grey Street targeted in new smokefree proposal

28 February 2019

Wellington’s beaches and the Grey Street pedestrian area in the central city will be off limits to smokers as part of a proposed update to Wellington City Council’s Smokefree Action Plan.

Photo of Grey Street

The plan reaffirms the Council’s commitment to the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 goal that fewer than 5 percent of New Zealanders be smokers by 2025. Wellington City already has smoking rates of less than 10 percent and a real chance of meeting the goal. 

The action plan proposes to make all beaches smokefree along the Wellington City coastline from Oriental Bay to Owhiro Bay – from the start of Daylight Saving time in late September. It will also see the Grey Street pedestrian area, alongside Lambton Quay, become smokefree once construction work to upgrade the area is completed in June.

The action plan also proposes that people should not vape in smokefree places.

City Councillors will vote on whether to approve the action plan at a City Strategy Committee meeting next Thursday 7 March.

Mayor Justin Lester says the plan builds on the Council’s current smokefree areas and Smokefree Action Plan 2016/17.

Areas that are already smokefree include the city’s playgrounds, skate parks, sportsfields, bus stops, Waitangi, Midland and Truby King parks, Botanic Garden, Otari-Wilton’s Bush, Bolton Street Cemetery, Civic Square, the Zoo and Zealandia, several city laneways and entrances to all Council buildings, including libraries and swimming pools.

To help educate the public, smokefree signs and an online map will be developed to better inform people about all the smokefree areas.

“There’s huge support for the Council’s smokefree outdoor public spaces,” the Mayor says.

“A Council survey last year of 2269 people found nine out of 10 non-smokers and almost half of smokers support Wellington becoming increasingly smokefree.

“That’s pretty convincing and something we as a council want to continue to act on.”

The council does not fine people for smoking in smokefree areas, but Councillor Brian Dawson, who holds the Council’s Social Development portfolio, says the plan is not about being punitive.

“We are being proactive around educating people on where they should not smoke and the action plan is the most appropriate way for the Council to target and communicate wider behavioural change around smoking.

“It’s always been about being positive and encouraging people not to smoke in these areas rather than punishing them for smoking and giving them a fine for doing so. We believe this approach is working.”