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Letter | The potential of Google Street View for studying smokefree signage

This letter discusses findings of research into the usage of smokefree signage in New Zealand schools.

The pilot study of 50 lower North Island primary and secondary schools found that a third had no smokefree signage. The study used Google Street View to locate larger smokefree signage as well as on-location observations.

Background and aims

In 2004, a revised national law requiring school grounds to become completely smokefree became operational in New Zealand (NZ) – the Smoke-free Environments Act (with amendments). This law covers preschools, primary schools and secondary schools for all times of the day and year, and mandates the use of smokefree signage at these facilities (at or immediately inside “every entrance to the premises”). However, there have been no studies of this signage, despite its potential role in both ensuring schools stay smokefree and contributing to wider denormalisation of smoking in a society where the government has a smokefree nation goal for 2025. We aimed to perform a pilot study to explore the utility of Google Street View (GSV) for studying the use of smokefree signage by NZ schools.

The full letter can be viewed in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

The media release can be viewed here.


Wilson, N., Thomson, G., Edwards, R. (2015). The potential of Google Street View for studying smokefree signage: A pilot study. Aust N Z J Public Health Online April 23, 2015. doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.12361

To request a copy of the letter please contact:
George Thomson
University of Otago, Wellington


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