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Article | Smokefree outdoor areas in New Zealand: how far have we come?

Abstract

Aim:

This research examined 1) the extent and nature of smokefree outdoor area (SFOA) policies in New Zealand, and 2) the process of developing, implementing and promoting compliance with a SFOA policy.

Method:

An online survey was carried out with 43 of the 67 Local and District Councils, supplemented by other means. The survey assessed whether the council had a smokefree policy and if so, what locations the policy covered, the process of developing, implementing and promoting compliance with a smokefree policy, the challenges associated with policy development, and plans for future policies.

Results:

SFOA policies had been enacted by a total of 47 councils, 31 of which responded to the survey, covering a combination of playgrounds, sports grounds, parks, and council run events. Lack of public health priorities, and resources were common issues preventing other councils from developing a policy. Letters from health advocacy groups strongly influenced councils to introduce SFOA policies. The biggest barriers to implementation of SFOA policy were time and resource commitment required from staff, and the financial cost for signage. Voluntary compliance was used to ensure compliance with the policies; no councils used active enforcement. Few councils have evaluated their policies, but most felt that it had been successful.

Conclusion:

Health groups can take heart that their advocacy is resulting in policy change within local government. However, continued efforts are required to undertake evaluations of current SFOA policies which may provide evidence to extend SFOAs, to assist those councils without a SFOA policy to develop one, and to increase funding for implementation.

Citation: Marsh L., Robertson L.A., Kimber H., Witt M. (2014) Smokefree outdoor areas in New Zealand: how far have we come? NZMJ Vol 127 No 1389; ISSN 1175 8716 URL: http://journal.nzma.org.nz/journal/127-1389/5997/ (requires password to view until August 2014)

For more information please contact:

Louise Marsh
University of Otago, Dunedin
email: louise.marsh@otago.ac.nz