By Julie Iles

Smoking has been on the run in Wairarapa for years with towns gradually tightening the screw on puffers.

The latest initiative is coming from Carterton, which plans to have a smokefree CBD by 2019, six years in advance of a central government policy to achieve a smokefree New Zealand.

A new Carterton District Council policy recommendation hopes to start taking steps now to make Carterton less smoker friendly.

Council owned property like sports fields, playgrounds, and reserves would be the first to be declared smoke free if the policy is passed, followed by the Event Centre, cafés on council- owned land, footpaths, and eventually the entire commercial district.

The policy’s enforcement would be voluntary, encouraging a role-model of good behaviour for young Carterton people.

Council staffer Dave Gittings said he would like the CBD to be smoke free by 2019 as a firm goal of the proposed policy.

“It’s far better to go out there and have a really concrete goal and really go out and try to attain that goal – I think we can do it,” said Mr Gittings.

The policy will be brought before Carterton District Council on Wednesday, October 5.

“Obviously it needs to go through council and be ratified but I’m feeling really positive that it could make a really good change to Carterton.”

Mr Gittings said moving the policy into private areas would be harder, but if the council shows good leadership with council assets, private business owners may follow suit. When the policy was brought before the Carterton Business Association for feedback, Go Carterton team member Mick Campbell said ‘nobody was shocked’. He has been in Wairarapa for six years since moving here from Australia, where local government has had policies like this for a long time.

“I’m a former smoker or a current-former smoker – I’m trying to give it up.

“The whole purpose of [the policy] is to encourage our youth not to smoke and provide a healthier environment for people, so I think that’s a good thing.”

The general consensus of Go Carterton seemed behind the idea, though the association has not discussed it formally, said Mr Campbell.

“They said it would be phased in over a period of time they didn’t say what that time frame looked like,” he said.

The Government has committed to New Zealand becoming smoke free by 2025. This new policy would support those goals said Mr Gittings. He hopes Carterton’s stance on smoking will encourage other districts.

“Hopefully the rest of the Wairarapa can join in and make it a smoke free area,” said Mr Gittings.

Masterton is also looking at ways of expanding its smoke free areas  now having the town square, parks, and reserves off-limits to smokers.

Masterton District Council spokesman Sam Rossiter-Stead expects the conversation to pick up speed after the elections, and said council has had discussions with cafes about making outside eating areas smoke free.

South Wairarapa Deputy Mayor Viv Napier said more smoke free discussions are being held with the district council. She said playgrounds have been made smoke free, but sports fields are still being discussed within council.

“It’s been interesting having discussions about sports grounds because the point was raised we don’t want to put off parents from coming to games.”

The council has put up smoke free signs around public places, but says a ban is unlikely to come down the pipeline.

“We thought it was better to be proactive about encouraging people to be smoke free rather than banning it and being punitive.”