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Smoke-free law information line launched

18 November 2004

Ministry of Health launches Smoke-free law information line

The Ministry of Health today launched its Smoke-free law information line ahead of 10 December 2004, when all internal workplaces in New Zealand will be required to be smoke-free.

Ministry spokesperson, Dr Ashley Bloomfield says that the toll-free line is one of a range of resources aimed at educating people about their rights and responsibilities under the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Act 2003. Since the law was passed late last year, we've been working with affected groups, particularly retail and hospitality businesses, about how they can comply."

In addition to the information line, 0508 SMOKEFREE, or 0508 766 533, we've produced a range of factsheets covering specific aspects of the changes to the smoke-free law, signs for shop and counter display, and launched a dedicated website, www.smokefreelaw.co.nz,which includes the factsheets, frequently asked questions and the background to the legislation.

This Act targets smoking in a number of ways. It is now illegal to sell cigarettes, tobacco, toy tobacco products or herbal smoking products to people under 18 years. It is an offence to supply people under 18 years with cigarettes, tobacco and herbal smoking products in a public place. There is a smoke-free ban at all times in schools and early childhood centres and, from 10 December 2004, smoking will be banned in all indoor workplaces which includes hospitality venues such as restaurants, cafes, bars and casinos. From that date, there will also be a number of changes to the way that smoking products can be displayed in retail outlets.

The display provisions are designed to reduce young people's exposure to tobacco products, while the Act is to protect all people from the effect of the toxic smoke. It extends the protections for workers, volunteers and the public, with the intention that we send a positive message about a smoke-free/auahi kore lifestyle as both desirable and the norm.

"Amid all of the concerns being raised and publicity around the December 10 changes, a point that seems to be missed is that you don't have to have people smoking in an indoor area to be prosecuted. The charge is for failing to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure people don't smoke in an indoor workplace. That include things like making sure there aren't any ashtrays, there is smoke-free signage, tobacco vending machines are not accessible to the public and staff have training in how to deal with people who are smoking."

Our focus is on encouraging compliance through education and advice, and making sure that non-smokers are aware of their rights to smoke-free work and hospitality environments. People or organisations who openly choose to break the law will be prosecuted, Ashley Bloomfield says.

ENDS


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