Palmy Mayor says no need for 'smoke police'

Palmy cafes and restaurants that want to have tables outside will now need a permit from the council (Getty)
Palmy cafes and restaurants that want to have tables outside will now need a permit from the council (Getty)

Light up a cigarette outside a cafe in Palmerston North from today, and you'll be breaking the law.

But no one's going to force you to stop. Mayor Grant Smith told Paul Henry this morning the council won't be unleashing "the smoke police".

Instead, he's hoping peer pressure will stub out the increasingly expensive habit.

"They'll know that they're lighting up a smoke-free zone, and they'll get a gentle reminder from the cafe owner," says Mr Smith.

Palmerston North is the first city in New Zealand to pass a bylaw against smoking in public areas, timed to come into force on World Smokefree Day.

Cafes and restaurants that want to have tables outside -- previously generally used by smokers -- will now need a permit from the council, remove their ashtrays and put up smoke-free signs.

"People will find themselves fairly uncomfortable smoking in a non-smoking area," says Mr Smith.

He doesn't expect too much backlash, comparing the change to the banning of smoking in pubs and cafes in 2004.

"The world was going to fall in when smoking was banned from cafes and bars a short time ago -- it's actually improved the experience for people."

The council will cover the cost of putting up smoke-free signage.

"We've got to be careful we don't take a sledgehammer approach to it, and policing it will be difficult," says Mr Smith.

"But you've got to start somewhere -- if we're to be smoke free by 2025, we need to do something."

Auckland Council has progressively banned smoking in public areas it manages, and this year will review how that's working and whether it too needs to introduce a bylaw.

Newshub.

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