By Jared McCulloch
Anti-smoking advocates are describing the vaping ban in Central Otago this summer as a step too far.
The Queenstown Lakes District has placed the smoking and vape restriction on popular lakeside beaches, but some feel vaping should still be allowed.
The council has enforced a three-month trial.
Mayor Jim Boult says “it's about education rather than being obnoxious about it".
It has made the call in a move to help make the region smoke-free by 2025.
“This is simply about health issues, alerting folk to the fact that smoking and vaping have proven not to be good for your health.”
But Deborah Hart from Action for Smokefree 2025 or ASH says “it is a mistake to conflate smoking and vaping".
“These are not the same things.”
“If you want to safeguard the health of New Zealanders, then certainly ban smoking on beaches but don't ban vaping on beaches, help people who want to give up smoking by allowing them to vape.”
Locals tend to agree.
One local says “I don't think it is as bad as smoking so I think there should be a little bit of freedom around that.”
Another local says “It doesn't bother me too much [about vaping]. Smoking really bothers me.”
A Queenstown resident says “you keep pushing people further and further out, where are they going to do these things.”
However, Ms Hart understands the vapour from vaping is unpleasant.
“But it is not going to be a risk to your health to take in the vapour of someone vaping. So you don't need to worry.”
The Ministry of Health says research shows vaping is less harmful than cigarettes and should be used as a tool to quit the habit.
But it's up to councils to decide whether smoking and vaping should be banned in their community.
“I would encourage other councils to take a look at what we are doing, learn from what we learn out of this and maybe it might help shape their policies,” says Mr Boult.
The council will review the temporary ban in March.