Smokefree message in the air

Breath of fresh air . . . Precinct Food owner Liz Christensen (left) and chef Louise Evans eat lunch in the smoke-free outdoor dining area of the eatery in Dunedin's warehouse precinct yesterday. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

Dunedin diners want to eat in smoke-free outdoor environments, and a growing number of cafes and restaurants are heeding the call, health advocates say.

With World Smokefree Day coming up on May 31, smoke-free campaigners from the Southern DHB, Cancer Society, and Well South, are pleased that 20 hospitality businesses in greater Dunedin are now listed on the Fresh Air website.

The Fresh Air Project is a national initiative delivered in Dunedin by the Cancer Society and Southern DHB, which supports hospitality businesses to have outdoor dining areas that are totally smoke-free and vape-free.

It aims to help meet the Government goal of a smoke-free New Zealand – where smoking rates are below 5% – by 2025.

Cancer Society Otago-Southland health promotion and advocacy manager Sophie Carty said preliminary project study results showed “a resounding” 91% of diners supported smoke-free outdoor areas in Dunedin.

“The Government is currently reviewing our smoke-free laws, and we are asking that they make more places smoke-free and reduce the availability of tobacco in New Zealand,” Ms Carty said.

“Stronger smoke-free laws are good for the health of the entire community.”

Smoke-free campaigners urge the community to make submissions on boosting smoke-free spaces.

In the meantime, community and business efforts to create more smoke-free environments – such as cafes and restaurants signing up to the Fresh Air Project – helped the country move towards the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 goal, she said.

Southern DHB Smokefree co-ordinator Debby Newton said changes to the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990, presently going through the parliamentary process and expected by the end of this year, would also have a positive effect. In particular, smoking and vaping will be banned in cars when children under 18 are present.

“This is a success to be celebrated, and is something that will help to lead to long-term change in society,” Ms Newton said.

World Smokefree Day 2019 marks the launch of a new campaign, entitled “Stop the Stock”, which will encourage a national conversation around tobacco supply in our communities.

This will be led by the Hapai te Hauora National Tobacco Control Advocacy Service and the Cancer Society.

Dunedin smoke-free advocates will be on hand with information at Dunedin City Library in Moray Pl, on May 31.