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No More Smoke And Mirrors, Now Just Mirrors

Media Release
3 December 2003


No More Smoke And Mirrors - Now It's Just Mirrors.

With the World Premiere for the Lord of the Rings movie still on people’s minds, many will not be aware of the passage of the Smokefree Environments (Enhanced Protection) Bill into legislation today.

Both took place in Wellington, and both will most likely play an important part in the landscape of New Zealand culture in years to come.

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation welcomes this new smokefree legislation as an important tool in reducing exposure to harmful tobacco smoke that will change the atmosphere at our local bars and restaurants alike.

Foundation Executive Director, Jane Patterson says that now, the freedom to dine out and enjoy an evening at the local pub will be available to the over 600,000 people in New Zealand with a respiratory condition for whom second hand smoke may be a trigger.

"People who work in these venues will also be free from the prospect of developing a respiratory illness due to breathing in second hand smoke at work.

"These are just two of the significant and lasting impacts of this vital health care legislation," she says. Legislation that is hot on the heels of the release of the 'Burden of COPD' report detailing the costs of this smoking related illness on the country - an estimated $192 million a year in direct health care costs.

"Although this legislation is too late for David Simm, a lifelong non-smoker with terminal cancer that his doctors blame on passive smoking, it will prevent hundreds of others like him in the future and that is great news."

"We are also delighted that this legislation will mean that all indoor workplaces will be completely smokefree within a year."

The Foundation is just one of many organisations committed to improving the health of all people in New Zealand. We applaud this noteworthy legislation and thank the politicians who voted for this on behalf of our many constituents.


Quick points of this legislation

- All indoor workplaces to become smokefree within 12 months

- Schools and educational institutions to be 100% smokefree

- Vending machines will only be activated by licensed premises' staff - to prevent under 18 year olds accessing tobacco products

- There will be further restrictions on counter displays and cigarette packaging

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of NZ (Inc.) is a non-governmental charitable organisation that provides education, information, advocacy and research on asthma and other respiratory conditions. All of our resources are free to download from


Second-hand tobacco smoke causes death and a variety of diseases.

It is estimated to be responsible for around 347 deaths in New Zealand each year. Around 100 of these deaths are attributable to exposure to second-hand smoke in the workplace .

Exposure to other people’s tobacco smoke is responsible for over 3,700 hospital admissions for heart attacks, strokes and other illnesses; 27 000 GP consultations and 14,000 episodes of childhood asthma .

All workers have the right to protection from second-hand smoke.

Office and shop workers have been protected from second-hand smoke since 1990. However, law does, not currently protect factory workers and those in the hospitality industry.

Workers in the hospitality industry are the most vulnerable to the harmful effects of second-hand smoke of any occupation.

There are an estimated 6,500 hospitality workers in New Zealand who are exposed to unacceptable levels of second-hand smoke on a daily basis . Through exposure to other peoples’ tobacco smoke, these workers are exposed to cancer-causing and toxic chemical emissions, which are banned in other industries. Research has shown that hospitality workers in premises which permitted customer smoking had a higher prevalence of respiratory and irritation symptoms than workers in smokefree workplaces . Exposure could be as much as six times higher than for other workplaces .

Ventilation is not a remedy for the elimination of health risks from tobacco smoke New Zealand’s ventilation standards are designed for comfort levels, not safety.

In New Zealand there is no regulatory authority, which enforces the indoor air quality standard.

Engineering solutions can only reduce exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, not eliminate it. It has been estimated that a ventilation rate the strength of a tornado would be needed to eliminate the health risks.

Studies show that ventilation systems are usually not well maintained, making them even less likely to be effective. Many venues turn off their ventilation systems in cooler weather because of discomfort to patrons.

Air filtration or air ionising equipment is not effective in removing invisible and highly toxic gases, although they do remove visible particles. The devices clog up quickly and require high levels of maintenance, which is rarely given.
Expert advice by the Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation states that ventilation is not effective for protecting people from second-hand smoke.

Smoking bans in overseas jurisdictions have not resulted in loss of profits in the hospitality and tourist industries.

Bar sales increased in California after smokefree laws. Fifteen US studies based on tax revenues show no decrease in profit from smokefree laws. Only studies commissioned by the tobacco industry, all of which are based on interviews with hospitality venue owners and not on tax receipts, say that sales fall after smokefree laws.

Children and young people are impressionable, emulate adult behaviour and therefore should be protected from undue influence.

Adult role modelling is known to be an important factor in students’ decision to smoke.


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