Taupō District Council is putting a plan in action to discourage people from smoking or vaping in public places, but a vape advocate says it unfairly punishes people who are already trying to quit using vaping.
The council said yesterday that a plan is now being actioned to make the Taupō district "smoke and vape free", which will include "smoke free" signage and education and awareness campaigns.
The affected areas will include the CBD and civic spaces, reserves and parks including the lakeside, sports grounds, outdoor dining venues, council events, council buildings, bus stops and social housing.
Taupō District Councillor John Mack said in the release that "by creating these smoke and vape free environments across our district we are setting the best example for our children and de-normalising smoking.
"Evidence shows that doing this reduces the likelihood of smoking later in life," Mr Mack said.
The ban will not be a by-law, so will not have any penalties for those who refuse to co-operate.
Council chief executive Gareth Green said that "even without enforcement, noticeable changes are seen with the introduction of these areas".
"It is the intention that through good signage, awareness and education, the plan will be upheld by social expectations, changing social behaviours and de-normalising smoking and vaping."
However, Abigail Smith, manager of The Mushroom Cloud vape shop in Taupō, said it was unfair that vapers had been targeted by the ban along with smokers, because many are already more considerate than smokers, with most finding a quiet spot away from others to vape.
"Everyone's aware that it can be a bit obnoxious if you've got a vape that makes a lot of vapour," Ms Smith said.
She said discouraging anyone from vaping was unfair, and that "there are a lot of people who are making really good choices about their quit strategy, whether it be using vaping as a tool, or using patches and gum".
"Now they're being essentially punished for their decision to try to find a way to quit smoking," she said.
Hospitality workers who go outside into public spaces during their break for their nicotine hit would now be unfairly forced "to feel bad about doing it"," Ms Smith said.
"I don't like discouraging people from doing something that's helping them make a good life decision."
The planned signage could also be ambiguous, she said, as most vapers don't consider themselves smokers any more, so the "smokefree" signs and crossed out cigarette symbols could lead some to think the ban only applied to cigarettes.
The Government has set a target of making New Zealand smoke free by 2025, but it remains unclear if that includes vaping.
Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa said in a statement that "the Government's position on vaping is clear: while vaping is not harmless, it should be available for those who choose to utilise it as a quit tool.
"However, these nicotine products should not be available, marketed or sold to children and young people."
Ms Salesa has said that the Government will introduce new legislation regulating the vaping market before this year's election, in order to limit the uptake of vaping by young people.
The Cancer Society has been advocating for all smoke free areas to also be vape free.
Smoking rates in New Zealand have continued to fall, with about 12.5 per cent of adults being daily smokers - down from 18 per cent in 2007 - according to Smoke-free New Zealand.
Data obtained by 1 NEWS last year showed the number of cigarettes being sold in New Zealand looks to have fallen more sharply over the past two years.