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Providing a smokefree environment

Providing a smokefree environment

Under the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act, all employers have a legal obligation to ensure all internal work areas are completely smokefree. There are limited exceptions, such as some work vehicles and 'home-like' environments.

The Act requires that all indoor public spaces, including restaurants and bars, are smokefree.

The law also aims to reduce the number of people exposed to second-hand smoke, restrict under-18s’ access to tobacco and promote a smokefree lifestyle as the norm. It also limits the marketing, advertising and promotion of tobacco products.

Vaping illegal in workplaces

It is now illegal to vape in any legislated smokefree area. This includes inside workplaces.

New legislation means that vaping and similar smokeless tobacco products are banned in all smokefree environments, such as bars, restaurants and indoor workplaces. Vaping will also be prohibited on some transport services and in certain venues.

The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Vaping Amendment Bill came into effect on November 11, 2020.

Employers must take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure that no person vapes inside at any time in a workplace.

There are some specific exemption for vaping retail stores. You can learn more about this at the Ministry of Health website.

Smokefree and vape-free places

The following places must be smokefree and vape-free at all times:

  • The buildings and grounds of all schools and early childhood centres at any time on any day.
  • Indoor areas of licensed premises and workplaces ('licensed premises' includes bars, restaurants, cafés, sports clubs and casinos; 'workplaces' includes offices, factories, warehouses, work canteens and break rooms).
  • Certain enclosed travel premises, such as queuing areas and waiting rooms.

What does the smokefree law mean for employers?

With very limited exceptions, the law requires all employers to take action to ensure workplaces are smokefree and vape-free by taking reasonably practicable steps including:

  • displaying smokefree signs in the workplace
  • referring to a smokefree policy in workplace employment agreements and recruitment policies
  • notifying service contractors and visitors of the smokefree policy
  • training managers and supervisors on what to do if someone smokes in the workplace.

Employers can refuse to employ someone because they smoke as smoking is not covered by the Human Rights Act. 

Making a complaint

If smoking or vaping occurs in a workplace and the employer has failed to take such steps, an employee may lodge a complaint.

To make a complaint under smokefree law, contact an Enforcement Officer. Contact numbers can be found on the Ministry of Health website.

More detailed information and guidance on the Smoke-free Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990 and its amendments can also be found on the Ministry of Health’s website.

Want to create a totally smokefree workplace policy? Check out the Northland Intersectoral Forum's guide to creating a smokefree workplace.

Read more about smokefree policies in New Zealand.

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