Concerns about vaping have arisen locally and nationally. The main concern is its effect on young people, and the rate of uptake of vaping. According to the Ministry of Health, around 5,000 New Zealanders die each year because of smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke.
Last year, the local Smokefree Reference Group ran a survey on attitudes to smoking and vaping in outdoor areas in Palmerston North. The survey had 1,721 responses. More than half of the respondents thought the outdoor areas identified in the survey should be smokefree, with 98 per cent stating that all playgrounds should be smokefree.
The consultation is also asking residents for feedback on the public areas designated in the draft policy. There are changes to the current policy that see the inclusion of areas such as skate parks and bus terminals. Full details of the proposed policy are available in the consultation document, which is available online or at Council offices and city libraries. Submissions can also be made online: pncc.govt.nz/smokefree
The consultation period runs from 4 July to 31 July.
Council’s policy review is unaffected by The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill that is currently progressing through Parliament. One of the intentions of this amendment is to protect against normalising vaping among children and young people, where the long-term effects are not yet known. The Bill, if passed, will extend many of the existing provisions of the Smokefree Environments Act 2003 to vaping products and heated tobacco devices.