What are the Smokefree laws in New Zealand?

In New Zealand we have the Smokefree Environments Act 1990

This act bans smoking:
  • in the workplace
  • in and within the grounds of schools and Early Childhood centres
  • on aircraft and passenger vehicles
  • in licensed premises, pubs, clubs, restaurants and casinos
It also regulates:
  • marketing, promotion and advertising of tobacco products
  • visible display of tobacco products
  • use of tobacco trade marks on goods in sponsored events
  • sale and labelling of tobacco products
  • requirement for testing and reporting of tobacco constituents
  • powers of Smokefree enforcement officers

The aim of the act is to protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke, restrict influence of and sales to minors, reduce harm to smokers and promote smokefree as the normal lifestyle.

Removing displays of tobacco products in retail outlets

Tobacco displays have been banned in retail stores in NZ since 2012. This law has helped reduce the risk of young people taking up smoking, removed prompts for impulse purchases and reduced the risk of relapse among smokers who have quit. Retailers are also banned from displaying trading names that refer to tobacco products.

Retail displays of tobacco products are a promotional tool and a form of advertising. Other forms of tobacco promotion and advertising are already outlawed under the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990. Exposure to branding and marketing imagery (including exposure through point of sale displays) increases the risk of young people taking up smoking, prompts impulse purchases and increases the risk of relapse among smokers who have quit. 

Tobacco retail displays, innocently positioned alongside everyday confectionary and sweets were a key component of making cigarettes attractive to recruit young smokers.  This is no longer the case in New Zealand. The law change meant tobacco displays have been removed from public view.

Retailers who fail to follow the law could face a fine of up to $10,000.

We also have the Smokefree Environments Regulations 2007. These set out the requirements for labelling of cigarette packages and other tobacco products, including a requirement for graphic pictorial health warnings.

What is happening now with Smokefree laws?

A new bill is being considered in parliament, it has had the first reading, been approved by the Health Select Committee, and is now awaiting the second reading. This new bill is the Smokefree Environments Act (Plain Packaging bill), the bill sets out the requirement for tobacco products to have plain packaging, without branding, logos, specific colouring or any other marketing. They will contain large graphic health warnings, and a basic text brand name.

Cigarette packagingThe reason this bill is so important is that tobacco companies use cigarette packets as a powerful marketing tool to attract young people - our tamariki. Unbranding cigarette packs won't stop everyone from smoking, but it will give our kids one less reason to start. 

In Australia Plain Packaging started December 2012. Evidence has already shown that more people were trying to quit smoking, smokers are no longer taking pride in their brand, but now hide packs instead of displaying them, and Australian tobacco sales dropped in 2013 to the lowest in history.

Regional and local Smokefree laws:

Increasing smokefree outdoor areas is an important part of achieving the New Zealand Government's goal of a Smokefree Aotearoa 2025. Evidence tells us that the less young people see smoking the less likely they will start smoking. 

Many councils across New Zealand have shown great leadership in this area. Now there is an opportunity to support and challenge those that have not yet implemented any policies to increase Smokefree outdoor areas. 

These types of smokefree policies cover smoking in public places, particularly places where families and young children visit. There are policies in place for playgrounds, skate parks, sports fields, town centres, bus stations and other public transport areas, council facilities such as libraries and community centres, pedestrian malls, beaches, outdoor dining areas, and council associated events.

Research, Legislation and policy link

Research is a vital part of the smoking endgame in New Zealand. To achieve a Smokefree New Zealand by 2025, we need legislative, regulation and policy change. Research experts in New Zealand and internationally produce the latest evidence to support smokefree outdoor areas.


Read more information on making a complaint under the Smokefree Environments Act and how to contact a smokefree enforcement officer. 

International Tobacco control laws

Browse tobacco control laws from 196 countries

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) 

WHO Tobacco Free Initiative 

The World Health Organisation provides information on the importance of legislation, the legislative process and forms of legislation for tobacco control. WHO website hosts information on other key issues relating to elements of tobacco control, including enforcement of tobacco control legislation, country case studies, global reports and publications, guidelines, and resources to assist with implementation.


Smokefree 2025