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Smokefree outdoor Kapiti policy a success

The simple, if unpleasant, task of counting discarded cigarette butts has clearly shown that the Kāpiti Coast Smokefree Outdoor Public Places Policy is a success, Mayor Jenny Rowan said today.

“People who said the policy would be ignored by smokers and would fail have been emphatically proved wrong with butt counts in areas covered by the policy showing as much as a 70% drop,” she said.

“The policy was always intended as an educational one where the idea is to normalise smokefree environments as an example for young people and to discourage them from starting to smoke.

“The principal areas chosen were around children’s play areas but also on fields where young people play organised sports.

“With the support of Regional Public Health, the Cancer Society, Kāpiti PHO, Otaki PHO and the Kāpiti Health Group Trust, the Kāpiti Coast District Council adopted the educational smokefree outdoor public places policy, also known as the Smokefree Parks Policy, in December 2008.

“Prior to adoption of the policy research was carried out through an attitude survey and through clearing specified areas of butts and then counting after an appropriate time.  Once the policy had been in place for some time, follow up surveys and butt counts were carried out.

“Results from the surveys indicated a high level of support for smokefree areas both before and post policy implementation.

“But the real test was in the butt count and the studies of the various areas showed as much as a 70% drop in cigarette butts in areas covered by the policy.

“The policy is obviously having an effect in reducing the numbers of adult role models who smoke and it’s also having a positive effect on the environment,” Mayor Rowan said.