Smoking is close to being banned in most of Wellington’s public spaces – including bus stops and the Botanic Gardens – as the capital heads towards becoming a city of non-smokers.
City councillors will debate on Wednesday whether to approve an action plan that will turn the entrances of all publicly accessible buildings, such as shops and offices, into smokefree areas.
The ban will also cover all of the city’s bus stops, libraries and community centres, as well as the Botanic Gardens, Waitangi Park, Civic Square and its surrounding precinct.
This would incorperate the Wellington City Council building, central library, City Gallery, i-Site, Michael Fowler Centre, Town Hall, Jack Illott Green and the City to Sea Bridge.
The new rules would include the smoking of electronic cigarettes, known as vaping, as the Ministry of Health does not yet consider this an effective way to stop smoking.
Which is ridiculous. Public Health England has found them to be 95% less harmful than cigarettes.
Wellington office worker Phil Layzell, who was a smoker for 28 years before switching to vaping three years ago, said it was good to see the council taking action on smoking, but disappointing to see electronic cigarettes would also be banned.
“I think it’s terrible because it’s demonising a device that has helped so many people … I probably would have gotten cancer by now if it wasn’t for this.”
I know lots of people who now vape, after years and years of smoking. It is not a gateway into smoking – it is a gateway away from tobacco.
WCC’s proposals may be well intentioned, but they may actually do more harm than good by making it harder for people to switch to a less harmful product.