Second-hand smoke levels to be measured

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19 January 2017

Whanganui District Council is New Zealand’s first local authority to measure second-hand smoke levels.

The Personal Aerosol Monitor, on loan from Otago University’s Department of Public Health, will be used to collect data to raise awareness of the prevalence of second-hand smoke in our community.

The monitoring device measures fine particulate levels called PM2.5, found within second-hand smoke. PM2.5 is an air pollutant that is a concern for people's health when levels are high.

Safer Whanganui Project Leader Lauren Tamehana says passively inhaling second-hand smoke can lead to health problems including respiratory complications, asthma, ischaemic heart disease and lung cancer.

“There is no safe level of second-hand smoke exposure outdoors. Significant tobacco smoke effects occur at more than 10 metres from groups of smokers and at least nine metres from a burning cigarette in light winds.”

The measuring is part of the Council’s review of the Smokefree (Auahi Kore) Outdoor Areas Policy 2014. The policy is a collaborative venture between community organisations to reduce smoking in our outdoor areas and to promote Whanganui as a smokefree city.

It encourages people to refrain from smoking in a number of locations, among them the central commercial zone, including Majestic Square and the riverfront.

As part of the review, representatives from the health sector and the Council will conduct street surveys beginning Tuesday, January 24 to ask the public for feedback, and if they support a smokefree central city.

Council Policy Advisor Alex Staric says recent figures provided by the Whanganui Regional Health Network showed that in 2016, 19.3% of the Whanganui population identified themselves as regular smokers.

“We believe the policy is working because there are less people visibly smoking, which is likely to be because there is clear signage in our central city area letting people know it is smokefree. Only over time will the data show whether the number of smokers has reduced.”

The public is also encouraged to give their feedback on the Council’s Smokefree Outdoor Areas Policy 2014 review by emailing OurDistrictYourSay@whanganui.govt.nz

More on the Smokefree Outdoor Areas Policy 2014 can be found at www.whanganui.govt.nz/policies

Want to quit?

The Whanganui Regional Health Network offers a free service to help our community become smokefree at the following clinics in Whanganui:

•             The Quit Clinic: 49 Ingestre Street, 0800 200 249
•             Te Oranganui Iwi Health Authority: 57 Campbell Street, 349 0007

Free services include consultations and follow-up appointments, nicotine patches, lozenges and gum, carbon monoxide tests, quit books and calendars, information, advice and support on becoming smokefree.

Other useful websites:

•             www.smokefree.org.nz
•             www.quit.org.nz
•             www.health.govt.nz
•             www.heartfoundation.org.nz

Page reviewed: 14 Jun 2017 8:33am