Auckland DHB Smokefree Services
Public Service, Other, Cancer Network Group, Mental Health & Addictions
Smokefree Contractors/ NGOs
Regional Support for Smokefree Issues
By far the most comprehensive local support for Auckland employers wishing to establish a Smokefree compliant workplace, both physically and in its documentation, is to ask for help from the Auckland Regional Public Health Service. Information is found by following the link:
At this site you will find documentary resources to create a company policy and a company smokefree statement.
Smoke free law and an employer’s responsibility
NB: To assist in communicating the “smokefree” message in premises and organisations, smokefree stickers, signs and pamphlets can be ordered from the local public health service above. A list of the items available can also be viewed at the Ministry of Health’s “Health Education Resources” website, at www.healthed.govt.nz. There are a number of items available under the search topic of “smokefree”.
What are the aims of the smokefree law?
The aims are to:
- protect all workers and the public from second-hand smoke
- reduce the harm caused to individuals by their smoking
- further restrict minors (under 18) access to smoking products and prevent negative influences on young people
- further promote a smokefree (auahikore) lifestyle as the norm.
What do the smoke free laws mean for employers?
The following website provides very useful information for employers:
The Ministry of Health is responsible for the laws relating to smoking in the workplace.
With very limited exceptions, the law requires employers to ensure that workplaces are smokefree by taking 'all reasonably practicable steps'.
Reasonably practicable steps might include:
- display of smokefree signs in the workplace
- reference to the smokefree policy in workplace employment agreements and recruitment policies
- notifying service contractors of the smokefree policy
- training managers and supervisors on what to do if someone smokes in the workplace.
If smoking occurs in a workplace and the employer has failed to take such steps, an employee may lodge a complaint with the Ministry of Health.
More detailed information and guidance on the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Act 2003 can be found at the website above.
From 10 December 2004 smokefree restrictions were expanded so that all indoor workplaces became 100 percent smokefree, including offices, warehouses, factories, ‘smoko’ rooms, taxis, internal areas of trains and ships, prisons and travel premises such as terminals and passenger lounges.
Limited exceptions apply for some work vehicles and home-like environments such as individual prison cells, rest homes, hospitals, hotel rooms and residential care facilities.
Part 1: Smokefree Environments FAQ May 2005, MoH
Section B: Indoor Workplaces and Transport/Vehicles
B1) what is the definition of an indoor area of a workplace? Where can people smoke?
No person may smoke in the indoor area of a workplace. A “workplace” is an “internal area” occupied by an employer, and usually frequented by employees or volunteers during the course of their employment.
An “internal area” means an area within, or on, the premises or vehicle that, when all its doors, windows, and other closable openings are closed, is “completely or substantially enclosed” by:
- a ceiling, roof or similar overhead surface
- walls, sides, screens or other similar surfaces
- those openings.
A workplace includes the following examples:
- office, factory, shop, or warehouse
- work cafeteria, lift, lobby or stairwell, toilet or washroom, or other “common area”
- taxi, work vehicle, internal area of a ship aircraft or train, indoor passenger lounge or travel terminal/premises
- public institutions, (e.g. university, prison, hospital, government buildings)
- workplaces in otherwise “private” premises (e.g. home office, marae-based kohanga reo, bar in a residential massage parlour)
- RSA, sports club, or housie hall with at least one employee
- hospitality venue
- educational institutions for children under 18 (e.g., school, early childhood education centre).
People may smoke in areas of a workplace that do not fit the above definition of an indoor area. See question B2 below for some general guidelines.
B2) Which work-related areas or people are not covered by the smokefree provisions?
The prohibition against smoking in an indoor workplace does not apply, if the following situations exist:
- outdoors - any outdoor areas, except school grounds (e.g. outdoor decks, verandas and orchards)
- non-employees such as contractors and self-employed workers, if they do not work with other employees/volunteers in an indoor work setting
- infrequent work on private homes or temporary private premises
- private home, hotel or motel room, ship cabin, individual prison cell, foster home, community/church hall,
- marae etc (if not used as a workplace, school/preschool or licensed premises)
- places like a hotel room that are not frequented much by workers (unless management designate rooms smokefree). Home carers, cleaners, repairers or builders who visit someone’s private home to do certain work will need to negotiate with the home-occupier about smoking
- smoking room for live-in patients or residents
- the managers of rest homes, hospitals, and residential disability care institutions may provide a dedicated smoking room for smoker residents (only) to socialise in
- some work vehicles - if everyone who uses a work vehicle agrees, and if the vehicle is not used by the general public (e.g. a private pick-up truck), then they may smoke in the vehicle
- areas not within the definition of being “substantially enclosed”.
Caution: The Ministry of Health cannot provide legal advice about how the statutory definition of an indoor area that is “substantially enclosed” (and therefore smokefree) applies to particular situations or premises. Note also that each situation differs, and may be defined in different ways/possibly caught by different aspects or definitions in the smokefree law. Anyone wanting specific legal advice should contact a lawyer or legal expert. There is nothing to stop businesses choosing to designate additional outdoor areas smokefree too.
B3) Does the smoking ban apply to volunteers or independent contractors?
Yes, if they work in an indoor workplace that has at least one employee.
B4) Why not allow separate smoking areas in indoor workplaces?
The Health Select Committee considered that separate smoking areas were not effective in protecting workers from exposure to second-hand smoke. Smoke drifts into non-smoking areas, as a recent Australian study showed, exposing non-smokers to dangerous second-hand smoke.
The Committee considered that if smoking was allowed in some areas that this could place strong pressure on non-smoking employees to defer to smoking colleagues. The Committee preferred to take a consistent approach and make all indoor workplaces smokefree.
B5) Are marae, housie halls, community centres, churches and the like included in the 100 percent smokefree provisions?
The premises of marae, housie halls, community centres, churches and the like are only covered by the smokefree provisions to the extent that they fall within the smokefree law’s protections for:
- indoor workplaces (e.g. paid employees work in an office or public café/restaurant area)
- indoor licensed premises (liquor or gambling licence) or
- schools and early childhood centres (e.g. a kohanga reo).
These places are considered to be “private” cultural spaces to which the general public does not have access. The Health Select Committee endorsed the efforts of many marae to become smokefree. Custodians of these places may choose to implement a 100 percent smokefree policy for the indoor and/or outdoor areas of their premises, as an in-house policy to protect against second-hand smoke.
B6) Are smokefree signs and stickers available?
To assist in communicating the “smokefree” message in premises and organisations, smokefree stickers, signs and pamphlets can be ordered from your local public health service (e.g. local District Health Board). A list of the items available can be viewed at the Ministry of Health’s “Health Education Resources” website, at www.healthed.govt.nz . There are a number of items available under the search topic of “smokefree”.
B7) What happens if someone smokes in a workplace? Who is liable?
An employer is liable for a fine of up to $400 (individual) or $4000 (body corporate) if they allow someone to smoke on the premises in a smokefree area.
They will not be prosecuted if they have taken all reasonably practicable steps to prevent unlawful smoking (e.g. if they display no-smoking signs, do not provide ashtrays, and give an oral warning to the smoker).
B8) What happens if someone smokes in an indoor workplace?
It is up to employers and managers to take “all reasonably practicable steps” to ensure that no one smokes in the workplace.
For the purposes of the Act, a reasonably practicable step is defined as what a reasonable and prudent person would do in similar circumstances. A failure to take such steps is a breach of the law under the Act and may result in a fine of up to $400 (individual) or $4000 (body corporate).
Reasonably practicable steps include displaying “no-smoking at all times” signs, not providing ashtrays and giving oral warnings to those people who smoke.
Fines will not be imposed on individual smokers for smoking in indoor workplaces; however individual smokers will be fined for smoking on an aircraft.
The Ministry is concerned to ensure that the public and all people directly affected by the Act are educated on its provisions, and in particular, their new responsibilities under the Act.
Also helpful is the website: http://www.findlaw.co.nz/articles/4328/smoking-at-work.aspx
Here are the particular sections of interest at this site:
1. What the law says on smoking at work
2. What is a workplace?
3. Is smoking in company cars or other work vehicles allowed?
4. Smoking in hospitals, rest homes and care facilities
5. Schools and early childhood centres must be completely smoke-free
6. Do employers have to have a smoking policy?
7. The complaints process
8. Smoking rooms: Case example
9. Taking smoking breaks (smokos)
10. Smoking breaks against the house rules: Case example
11. Refusing to hire smokers
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This page was last updated at 9:26AM on September 7, 2021.