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By ROBYN BRISTOW

The main business area of Hanmer Springs is smoke and vape-free.

The village is believed to be the first in the country to have a non-smoking area across its business centre, a status it will trial over six months.

Local business owner and Hurunui councillor Jason Fletcher says people will be encouraged not to light up in the smoke-free zone, setting a good example to children, as well as protecting the community’s health and the environment.

The trial is a joint initiative by the Cancer Society, the Canterbury District Health Board and the Hanmer Springs Community Board. It is supported by the Hurunui District Council, and part of a push toward the Smoke-free Aotearoa 2025 strategy.

People are already asked not to smoke in parks, playgrounds and reserves in the village, with the trial now expanding in a bid to encourage people to voluntarily stub out cigarettes and keep key public spaces smoke-free and vape-free.

A survey in 2018 of local businesses, run by the Cancer Society, found 63 percent supported the concept, while a 13 percent were undecided.

“Smoke-free and vape-free is healthy for everyone,” says local business owner Alice Stielow.

Most people don’t smoke, including many international visitors to New Zealand.

In New Zealand, 84 percent of people are non-smokers. Recent World Health Organisation figures show 85 percent of Australians, 70 percent of Europeans, 78 percent from Britain, and 75 percent of Chinese don’t smoke.

The Cancer Society’s health promotion adviser, Cheryl Ford, says fewer people smoking can make it easier for those who have quit or want to quit because it removes the cues that can trigger a craving.

“While the trial is not a ban, we want people to take the message seriously and make a positive choice to keep public spaces smoke-free and vape-free.”

Signage and information will be made available to ensure that residents and tourists know the location of the zone.

The community will also have the chance to provide feedback on whether they would like the extended zone to become a permanent feature of the village.