Supporting compliance with smokefree legislation

The Smokefree Environments Act 1990 (and its more recent amendments) is the key piece of Smokefree legislation in New Zealand. It has two main aims:

  1. to reduce the exposure of people to second hand smoke by making certain public areas smokefree;
  2. to prevent young people starting to smoke by controlling the advertising and promotion of tobacco products.

Reducing exposure to smoke in public places

Smokefree Aotearoa New Zealand 2025.This means that all of the following places are Smokefree under the Act:

  • Workplaces including canteens and ‘smoko’ rooms;
  • Schools and early childhood centres including buildings and surrounding grounds; and
  • Internal areas of licensed premises including bars, restaurants, cafes, sports clubs and casinos.

Licensed premises, workplaces and schools all have a responsibility to ensure they meet the requirements of the Act.

Community and Public Health staff can support workplaces to expand or develop a smokefree policy or to help employees to quit smoking – while at work or for good. Contact your local office for more information.

Controlling the advertising and promotion of tobacco products

No Smoking symbol with the words Smokefree underneath.Retailers who sell tobacco products have a responsibility to ensure they meet the requirements of the Act. This means:

  • It is illegal to sell cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18;
  • It is illegal to sell single cigarettes to anyone regardless of age – cigarettes must be sold in packs of at least twenty;
  • It is illegal to display tobacco products in retail outlets;
  • All tobacco products must be sold in standardised packaging (also known as plain packaging); and
  • Tobacco sales via the internet in NZ are also bound by the Act and must not display tobacco products or tobacco information.

Restricting tobacco product advertisement ensures that children and young people are not exposed to the sight of tobacco products. This makes it easier to be smokefree.

A 2016 survey of Christchurch dairies looked at how important selling tobacco was to these retailers. The results may surprise you!

The role of Smokefree Enforcement Officers

Smokefree Enforcement Officers work for the Ministry of Health to ensure compliance with the Act, by:

  • visiting tobacco retailers to remind them of their responsibilities and support them to maintain compliance;
  • conducting Controlled Purchase Operations with young volunteers to test tobacco retailer’s compliance;
  • visiting licensed premises to ensure their open areas (where smoking is allowed) comply with the requirements set out in the Act; and
  • responding to complaints and queries.

Contact your local Smokefree Enforcement Officer at Community and Public Health for support to comply with the Smokefree legislation.



Download or order resources from the Community Health Information Centre.


Contact your local Smokefree Enforcement Officer for further information:

Christina Lewis
Ph: +64 3 364 1777
Fax: +64 3 379 6125

Wayne Cumming or Josh South
Ph: +64 3 687 2600
Fax: +64 3 688 6091

Rodney Beckett
Ph: +64 3 768 1160
Fax: +64 3 768 1169

Plain packaging research should encourage more Smokefree 2025 mahi

Hāpai Te Hauora media release: 15th April 2020

Hāpai Te Hauora welcomes new research from Otago University which shows plain packaging has taken the appeal out of cigarette packets. The researchers says the study shows that making cigarette packaging standard in New Zealand in 2018 has hit the policy target – which was to make tobacco products less appealing and to make health warnings on cigarette packs more obvious.

Hāpai Te Hauora helped with the push for plain packs seven years ago. General Manager of the National Tobacco Control Advocacy Service at Hāpai Te Hauora Stephanie Erick hopes the current research will lead to fairer outcomes for Māori and push policy makers to offer more help to those who smoke to quit.

So far it’s non-Māori who have shown the biggest reductions in smoking rates. The study shows similar reactions to plain packs among non-Māori and Māori – and that’s not enough according to Stephanie Erick. “If the Government wants Māori health to be as good as or better than non-Māori health it will also need to come up with answers that really work for Māori, Pacific people and other more affected groups”, she says.

Plain packaging is just one positive example of policy that can tackle the ongoing smoking epidemic. “The more measures we can put in place, the more likely it is whānau will stop smoking or at least move to less harmful options,” says Erick. “Hopefully, once vaping regulations are in place the Government can move onto supply reduction and really lay out the vision for a smoke-free New Zealand.

Page last updated: 20/04/2020

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