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 Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Act 2020 commenced on 11 November 2020, amending the Smokefree Environments Act 1990 and renaming it to the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990. It is among the most comprehensive tobacco control legislation in the world. 

These laws include restrictions on:

  • smoking and vaping in indoor workplaces, including restaurants and bars
  • the advertising, marketing, promotion, and the sponsorship of tobacco or vaping products
  • the sale or supply of tobacco and vaping products to those under 18 years of age
  • the sale of single cigarettes and packs of fewer than 20 cigarettes
  • smoking and vaping in buildings and on the grounds of schools, kura, early childhood centres and kōhanga reo.

New Zealand’s smokefree legislation also includes other measures like tobacco tax and under the 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 Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Act, New Zealand has increasingly focused on being smokefree.

The Amendment Act strikes a balance between ensuring vaping products are available for smokers who want to switch to a less harmful alternative, and ensuring these products aren’t marketed or sold to young people.

The Amendment Act does this by regulating the safety of vaping products and placing controls on the marketing, advertising, and promotion of vaping products

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 and vape-free
  • tobacco or vaping promotion or advertising
  • something else you think breaches the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990

There is more information about making a complaint via the Vaping Regulatory Authority on the Ministry of Health website.

Page last updated: 12 Nov 2020