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Smokefree city streets 'not a problem for business'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Smokefree city streets 'not a problem for business'

Businesses surveyed on Wellington's central city 'Golden Mile' streets have little concern about the possible financial impact of a smokefree streets policy.

Public health researchers from University of Otago, Wellington, asked 198 owners and managers of street level businesses what impact a smokefree 'Golden Mile', would have on their business (positive, negligible or negative).

Most at 64% thought there would be negligible impact and 20% a positive impact, with only 17% predicting a negative impact. The survey found that businesses selling food, especially those that had outdoor eating areas, are more likely to anticipate a negative impact, but 60% or more of even these respondents indicated little concern.

A study author, Associate Professor Nick Wilson, says: "These findings suggest that the business community's attitude may not be a barrier to City Councils adopting smokefree streets."

"It could even be the case that by making the centre city more attractive, smokefree streets could increase business activity," he says. A previous survey of pedestrians showed majority support for a smokefree 'Golden Mile'.

Co-author Dr George Thomson says that "smokefree shopping areas in cities in the United States, Japan and Australia are increasingly common. In Australia, councils are deciding that the retail hearts of cities such as Brisbane, Hobart and Adelaide are cleaner and more attractive when smokefree." Australian states and local councils are also introducing smokefree outdoor areas for caf�s and restaurants.

In Auckland, the suburbs of Botany and Otara are working towards having smokefree shopping areas. Meanwhile in both Australia and New Zealand, survey results indicate that over 75% of people do not want smoking outdoors when children are present. Dr Thomson says that "this concern is compatible with parents wanting a smokefree future for their children".

In 2009 and 2012, petitions asked the Wellington City Council to create a smokefree 'Golden Mile' and in April, the Wellington Council asked their staff to investigate options for smokefree playgrounds, parks and reserves.

Dr Wilson says such smokefree policy decisions are all helpful steps towards denormalising smoking and preparing New Zealand for the Government's goal of a smokefree nation by 2025.

"These moves may also help ratepayers by reducing city cleaning costs. It would also reduce pollution of Wellington Harbour from cigarette butts washing into the sea through the storm water system," he says.

This research had funding support from the Cancer Society of New Zealand. It was published in the international journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

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