Local Authority Long Term Plans and Smokefree 2025: How Committed are Councils to the 2025 Goal?
Murad, Manal Abdulla Hasan
Introduction: Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in New Zealand. The harmful effects of tobacco are not restricted to smokers but extend to non-smokers, including children. In 2011, the Government launched a goal to make New Zealand smokefree by 2025. This goal requires a multi-sector approach and coordinated efforts to achieve a reduction in smoking rates to under 5%. Local authorities, such as district and city councils, play an important role in improving wellbeing through local policies and community-based projects. Smokefree outdoor area (SFOA) policies can be introduced by local councils to reduce exposure to second-hand smoke (SHS) and denormalise tobacco smoking. A recent amendment to the Local Government Act 2002 has resulted in the removal of local government’s focus on promoting wellbeing in the community, and a reduction in councils’ obligation to consult with communities. Therefore, little is known about councils’ commitment to Smokefree 2025. Aim: The main aim of this research is to measure the commitment of local councils in the Canterbury/West Coast (CWC) region to the Smokefree 2025 goal using their Long Term Plan (LTP) as a measure. This research also explores councils’ views towards SFOA policies, and examines the impact of the 2012 Amendment to the Local Government Act 2002 in terms of councils’ commitment to promoting wellbeing, to the Smokefree 2025 goal, and to supporting community involvement in decision-making. Methods: This study consisted of five stages of data collection and analysis. Documents from different stages of the LTP process were downloaded from council websites and their content was analysed. These documents included the 2015 draft LTP documents (stage one), written and oral submissions to the 2015 LTPs (stage two), and the final adopted 2015 LTP documents (stage three). The previous 2012 LTP was also downloaded from councils’ websites, to compare changes made over time (stage four). Telephone interviews were undertaken with key informants from councils (stage five). Qualitative data analysis was conducted using the interview transcripts and focussed on summarising the informational content of the data. Results: Results from the LTP documents indicated that none of the councils had referred to Smokefree 2025 or smokefree community spaces in any 2015 LTP draft document. However, five councils had included a brief statement about Smokefree 2025 or smokefree areas in their adopted 2015 LTP after receiving a number of smokefree-related submissions during the consultation process. Analysis of the previous 2012 LTP found that smokefree issues were mentioned fewer times, whereas wellbeing and its variations were mentioned more, compared to the 2015 LTP. Conclusion: Local councils in the CWC region have made a contribution towards Smokefree 2025 insofar as they each have a SFOA policy, but there are opportunities for health and other groups to work with councils to try and enhance their overall commitment to Smokefree 2025 and to promote wellbeing. Health groups can help raise councils’ awareness of existing SFOA policies, public support for SFOA policies and the role of SFOA policies in smoking denormalisation.
Advisor: Marsh, Louise; McGee, Rob
Degree Name: Master of Public Health
Degree Discipline: Department of Preventive and Social Medicine
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Smokefree2025; Local Government; long term plan; local councils; smokefree 2025 goal
Research Type: Thesis