22nd September 2017, Volume 130 Number 1462

George Thomson, Nick Wilson

This article explores some of the local and regional developments during 2012–2016 in tobacco control in Aotearoa. The focus is on new activities and policies to provide better conditions for…

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There has been progress in the areas of smokefree dining, large smokefree outdoor worksites and ski fields, and parts of downtown areas such as squares and streets. The local activity is particularly important in providing models for smokefree outdoor hospitality areas. Action by central Government is needed to help make it easier for councils to have local smokefree bylaws. Government also needs to provide minimum outdoor smokefree laws.


In this viewpoint we highlight and discuss some recent local and regional level advances in tobacco control in Aotearoa/New Zealand. In this country a wide range of local actors are helping drive smokefree and tobacco-free policies, with an increasing presence of businesses in this field. There has been progress in the areas of smokefree dining, large outdoor worksites and ski fields, and parts of downtown areas such as squares and streets. In 2015 and 2016, three councils (Palmerston North, Napier and Hastings) have used pavement lease policies and bylaws to start introducing an element of requirement into smokefree outdoor dining. Elsewhere (eg, Rotorua, Ashburton, Westland and Christchurch) significant smokefree outdoor dining moves have been made by, or in conjunction with, local councils. Tobacco-free retailing continues to expand, particularly in Northland. In the absence of meaningful central government action on smokefree places in the last decade (despite the Smokefree 2025 goal), local activity is leading the way. It is particularly important in providing models for smokefree outdoor hospitality areas, where smoking normalisation and relapse are significant health risks. Nevertheless, there is a need for the local smokefree and tobacco-free activity to be nationally evaluated, particularly for assessing the prevalence of smoking in areas covered by ‘smokefree’ policies. Action by central government could help local actors by providing a more definite legislative basis for bylaws, by minimum outdoor smokefree laws and by the funding of effective tobacco control mass media.

Author Information

George Thomson, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington;
Nick Wilson, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington.


We are very grateful for inspiration, help and information from smokefree workers from around New Zealand, including: Bridget Rowse, Jim Callaghan, Sally Darragh, Kerry Hocquard, Julie Beckett, Martin Witt, Michele Grigg, Anna Frost, Felicity Spenser, Miraka Norgate, Penelope Scott and Cherry Morgan. A project funded by the Quit Group was the indirect stimulus for this article, but they did not fund the article.


Dr George Thomson, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Box 7343, Wellington.

Correspondence Email


Competing Interests



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