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By ROBYN BRISTOW

The Hurunui District Council has lent its weight to snuffing out smoking and vaping in central Hanmer Springs.

It will join with the Hanmer Springs Community Board, the Cancer Society and the Canterbury District Health Board to establish a zone in the village’s central business area where smoking and vaping will be banned from February 14 next year.

The zone includes the central business area and council-owned reserves in the centre of the village.

While applauding the efforts of those behind the six-month Smokefree Vapefree trial, the council accepts the initiative does not have any legal standing and will rely solely on a voluntary approach to encourage smokers and vapers not to smoke in key public spaces.

The zone is aimed at reducing visibility of addictive smoking behaviour, protecting the environment and providing a safe environment for all residents and visitors so that everyone can enjoy the alpine air.

Cheryl Ford, from the Canterbury-West Coast Cancer Society, and Lee Tuki, from the Canterbury District Health Board’s Community and Public Health section, say the decision to establish a smokefree zone follows surveys of the business community and endorsement by the Hanmer Springs Community Board.

Of the 129 businesses approached earlier this year, of the 106 who responded, 63 percent supported a zone, 13 percent were undecided and 24 percent were opposed.

Most businesses favoured the main retail/central business district as the appropriate zone, while responses were evenly mixed on whether a smokefree zone would impact positively or not on tourism.

They said it would enhance Hanmer Springs’ branding as a destination for health, wellness and enjoying the fresh, clean, alpine air and would help protect future generations by contributing towards a the goal of a smokefree nation by 2025.

The district council has had a progressive stance on smokefree initiatives, with its Smokefree Outdoors Strategy, committing it to a positive health and well-being outcome by promoting council playgrounds, reserves and entrance areas to council buildings as smokefree, as well as all events run by the council.