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Scope for smoke-free progress: study

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 28/03/2017

Government-led policies are likely to be more efficient than local authority bylaws in making progress in smoke-free outdoor policies (SFOP), according to a New Zealand study.

Otago University researchers looked at Wellington as a case study in options for a city.

Since 2012, the capital's city council has promoted education-based smoke-free policies for playgrounds, sports grounds and other outdoor spaces.

A paper published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health says there appears to be substantial scope for progressing SFOP.

Potential new policies include a smoke-free downtown, and the use of bylaws appears to be legally and practically feasible, the authors say.

However, having national legislation may be preferable to 67 territorial local authorities working separately.

It would provide certainty and clarity and could be more effectively communicated by the media.

"Some of the difficulties in progressing SFOP may be avoided if central government is willing to take a leadership role," the authors said.

"Virtually all general types of SFOP could be provided for by national level legislation - in terms of types of places, buffer zones, or most events."

The study identified a range of issues that held back SFOP initiatives, including political prioritisation, concerns by some businesses, and questions about compliance and enforcement.

Survey participants also highlighted the need to provide support for marginalised groups to help them quit smoking.

The researchers suggested, based on the experiences of bars going smoke-free, that public support for outdoor policies would likely increase once people experienced them.

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