Why do we have smokefree environments?

Smokefree workplaces, schools, and communities makes us all healthier.
History of tobacco control Take a look at the history of tobacco control in New Zealand with this interactive tool

A whole generation of New Zealanders have never known what it was like to work in an office filled with tobacco smoke. But it wasn’t always that way.

Before 1990, you could sit at your desk and smoke all day if you wanted – not much fun for the people around you!

Breathing in other people’s tobacco smoke, or second-hand smoke, puts you more at risk of heart disease, lung cancer, stroke and nasal cancer.

Seeing other people smoke also encourages more smoking. The less smoking young people see around them, the less likely they are to become smokers themselves. Not seeing people smoking tells young people that being smokefree is a normal way of life, and smoking is the exception not the rule.

Which environments are protected by law?

Second-hand smoke puts you more at risk of heart disease, lung cancer, stroke and nasal cancer.

New Zealand’s Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 is among the most comprehensive tobacco control legislation in the world. These laws include restrictions on:

  • smoking in indoor workplaces, including restaurants and bars
  • the advertising, promotion, and the sponsorship of events or activities by anyone who manufactures or sells tobacco
  • the sale or supply of tobacco products to those over 18 years of age
  • the sale of single cigarettes and packs of fewer than 20 cigarettes
  • smoking in buildings and grounds of schools, kura, early childhood centres and kĊhanga reo.

New Zealand’s smokefree legislation also includes other measures like regular increases in tobacco tax and under the Smoke-free Environments Act, tobacco packs must have graphic health warnings. Current health warnings include pictures of rotting teeth, feet with gangrene, and the brain of someone who has had a stroke from tobacco use.

Through the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990, New Zealand has increasingly focused on being smokefree. You can find out more here.

How to make a complaint

You are within your rights to make a complaint. You can contact the smokefree officers at your district health board to make a complaint if you see:

  • someone smoking in an area that should be smokefree
  • tobacco promotion or advertising
  • something else you think breaches the Smoke-free Environments Act.

There is more information about the smokefree legislation on the Ministry of Health website.

Page last updated: 26 Oct 2018