Lighting up on Mount Maunganui Main Beach and any other beaches and parks in Tauranga could be a thing of the past if a proposal to make outdoor areas smoke-free is introduced.
Tauranga City Council this week agreed to look at introducing the policy in outdoor areas across the city - shaming smokers into stubbing out their cigarettes in places such as beaches, playgrounds, sportsgrounds, skateparks, bus stops and walkways.
A proposal to declare the rest of the city's public places smoke-free will now be considered by the council. Smoking is already banned inside public buildings.
Tauranga is the last place in the Bay of Plenty to put pressure on smokers who light up outdoors where people gather.
The Western Bay District made its beaches and parks smoke-free in October 2009, also targeting facilities such as public halls, land around the halls, playgrounds, parks, sports fields, skate parks and reserves.
Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend the policy would not mean it was illegal to smoke in public areas. Instead, signs would go up and smokers would be made to feel ashamed if they lit up.
Mr Crosby said he had been approached by Toi Te Ora Public Health for the council to introduce a smoke-free policy for the city.
Delwyn Walker of the Welcome Bay Community Centre told council this week of the centre's plans to declare Welcome Bay a smoke-free community.
The council agreed to not only look at introducing the policy for Welcome Bay, but to extend it across the whole city, which would greatly reducing the areas where smokers could still enjoy a guilt-free cigarette.
The idea has won favour with anti-smoking group Ash (Action on Smoking and Health), whose director Ben Youdan said adopting a smoke-free public policy was an "extremely positive move".
He said he believed even smokers would support a move away from smoking on beaches and in parks.
"We don't want to criminalise smokers, but most smokers in New Zealand, 80 per cent, want to quit. You will find a surprising number of smokers support [making outdoor public areas smoke-free]."
Mr Youdan said local bodies introducing smoke-free policies supported the government's aim to make New Zealand smoke-free by 2025.
"It sends a really strong message to the government that people are supportive. The council is elected by people in the area, and is responding to what people want.
"Making the areas smoke-free, putting the signs up and encouraging people to support it and have a discussion about it are a good move.
"The point is not about ostracising smokers. It's about supporting people to be smoke-free."
The issue has ignited debate on the Bay of Plenty Times Facebook page.
Hayden Hippy Dugmore, who is quitting smoking, said people have a right to smoke "and as long as they dispose of their butts, it's perfectly fine".
Debz Standen was also not in favour of the smoke-free move.
"If we're going to get pedantic about a cigarette smoked in public, let's ban industrial smoke stacks, exhaust fumes, open barbecues, burning of the neighbours' rubbish, inside house heating first, shall we?"
But Hayley Te Tau supported the smoke-free move even though she was a part-time smoker.
Making the beaches and parks smoke-free was a good idea as there would be less litter and less smoke around children, she said. "I can't stand smoking in the middle of town."
Sharon Rahman said there was "nothing worse than having a picnic and smoke blowing into your face".
Meanwhile Whitney Tahau supported the move despite being a smoker herself.
"I don't smoke at parks or beaches anyway, mainly [because] of all the kids around, so yup go ahead and ban it."
Alysha Little was another fan of making beaches smoke-free.
"I say, yes, nothing worse than innocent kids having to inhale your smoke. And building a sand castle and digging up smoke butts."
Michelle Hope agreed with making public outdoor spaces smoke-free, saying children don't get a choice about being exposed to smoke.
"Other people ruin their bodies with it, why should [children] be exposed to it?" she said.
The number of councils adopting smoke-free outdoor spaces policies has increased significantly in the past few years, with at least 23 councils having a smoke-free outdoor spaces policy of some kind.
Tauranga City councillors were this week given a copy of Kawerau's smoke-free policy as an example of what could be achieved.
Kawerau's policy was educational and encouraged adults to be positive role models for children and young people by not smoking in public places. Having signs encouraged people to become more proactive about not wanting people to smoke round them.