Sportsfields and children's playgrounds are to become smoke-free in a Tauranga City Council drive to make smoking even less socially acceptable.
The new policy will shame people from lighting up in public areas of the city where people congregate, including bus stops, carparks, and outside council facilities like pools, halls, stadiums and the Historic Village.
Councillors yesterday stopped short of banning smoking in these areas. Instead they agreed that signs should go up to discourage smokers. "We will not have smoking police,"' Councillor Bill Faulkner said.
The council said the policy was about advice and education - not enforcement. "It is about the right of everyone to have a smoke-free environment," Councillor Larry Baldock said.
Councillor Murray Guy, an ex-smoker, said his objective was to protect the health and wellbeing of those who came after him and to ensure they were not caught in the trap of smoking that destroyed bodies and bank accounts.
Another ex-smoker, Councillor David Stewart called for the signs to go up in other public areas as well, saying tobacco was an insidious drug that hooked people for life. "Smoking is not normal, it is no good for anyone."
However, the council opposed applying the policy to beaches, passive parks and reserves, footpaths around hospitals and schools, and outdoor alfresco dining areas like The Strand.
Mr Baldock said restaurants and bars provided outdoor areas for smokers because smoking was banned indoors. Putting up the signs in publicly owned alfresco areas would affect The Strand and other places. "I would have some concerns about that," he said.
Councillor Terry Molloy agreed, saying that smokers had been chased from indoor areas and restaurant owners might have something to say about the policy applying to alfresco dining areas.
Mayor Stuart Crosby urged the council to start with a quiet passive approach and see where it goes from there.
Councillor Rick Curach said the policy was aspirational and would not remove anyone's rights to smoke anywhere they liked in public outdoor areas.
Council strategic planner Cheryl Steiner said that 75 per cent of New Zealand's population were non-smokers.
A full draft of the policy will come back to the council for ratification later this year.