Investigation to start
From the Office of the Mayor Len Brown
Mayor Len Brown backs smoking bylaw
Mayor Len Brown is applauding a council committee’s decision today to investigate a bylaw to make smoking in designated open spaces in Auckland illegal.
A bylaw could also strengthen efforts to make smoking socially unacceptable and empower hospitality staff and members of the public to challenge smokers smoking in non-smoking areas.
Auckland Council already has the country’s most comprehensive smokefree policy however the time has come to take a more proactive and regulatory approach says Mayor Brown.
“There has been a reduction of smoking in this city, which I think is partly due our policy, and public opinion is on our side to give that policy more grunt and show some strong leadership in this regard.
“But we can do more, and better, and an investigation of a bylaw could see us determine the outdoor spaces where smoking would be banned which really excites me and which fits with our vision to be the world’s most liveable city.”
Health organisations including the Cancer Society and Hāpai te Hauora addressed the committee urging it to “do the right thing: and make a “landmark policy step”.
A ban could range from high density areas such as pavement dining and civic squares to beaches and the entire CBD.
The bylaw option was one of four presented to the council’s Regional Strategy and Policy Committee as a result of a review of the smokefree policy adopted in 2013. As well as deciding to investigate a bylaw the committee also decided to strengthen its existing policy framework including targeting demographic groups.
Cities around the world are opting for a regulatory approach. In Australia several states and territories already have smokefree laws for outdoor dining areas.
While a new bylaw would take some time to develop, it could be the first major outdoor smokefree bylaw in New Zealand and – with a necessary law change – possibly empower the council to issue infringement notices which it currently cannot.
The review showed smoking rates among Maori and Pacific communities in Auckland were substantially higher than for the general population. Young Maori women (25-34) in particular have smoking rates far higher at about 35 per cent.
“It is ghastly statistics like this that have encouraged me to take a strong stand with this issue and do more,” says Len Brown. “Obviously this is just another step towards a smokefree city but it’s a significant one. I am sure Aucklanders will be very happy we are taking the initiative to resolve an issue that undoubtedly compromises their health and environment and that of their children.”
Officers advised the committee that choosing the bylaw option could be legally challenged and came with associated costs. However the Mayor and committee chair, Councillor George Wood, say both are worth it.
“I am proud the committee has showed such strong leadership today and that’s because we know Aucklanders want us to tackle this issue head on,” says Councillor Wood.
The bylaw investigation will be in accordance with the Local Government Act 2002 and will involve research, stakeholder engagement, legal review and approval, full public consultation and hearings and public deliberations.
Going to be interesting this one working its way through the mill especially if Government does allow Councils to spot fine smokers. While the initial bans would start in the City Centre it would not be long until the 21 Local Boards would have to face the issue especially with their Town or Metropolitan Centres.
One to watch.