• rebecca telfer
    Hi, can you please advise if there are any regulations out there that states an employer must supply a dedicated smoking or vaping area on site? If so, does this have to be covered in - ie gazebo and seating area. thanks
  • Candis Hawkins
    Considering hospitals, prisons and other government places are smoke free, I don't think there is anything that says a buisness would have to have a smoking / vaping area. We keep ours ( a covered shed) rather than go to a smoke free site (which many people want) to minimize staff taking sneaky smokes and risking fires. If staff need to go off site to smoke they are more likely to just hide at the back of factory and smoke anyway. Addiction is real.
  • Trudy Downes
    Manatū Hauora says
    "The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990 (the Act) requires all internal areas of workplaces, licensed premises and certain public enclosed areas to be smokefree and vapefree. The Act applies to schools, early childhood centres, retailers, licensed premises, sports clubs and all employers.

    The internal areas of all of these premises are required to be smokefree and vapefree and smoking and vaping is only legally permitted in open areas. Employers/proprietors may choose to ban smoking in their open areas as well."

    Therefore, employers get to choose how and where or if they allow smoking or vaping on their sites.

    It would be a prime time to engage with people about the issue and how the employees want to deal with it. The employer could offer Quit Smoking options instead. How cool would it be if an employer subsidised quit-smoking hypnotherapy or something like that?

    In all things, the employer should offer a safe space, that doesn't necessarily mean seating!
  • Matthew Bennett
    Hi @rebecca telfer. I recently had to deal with the same / similar question. What I found is by no means the definitive answer however enough to satisfy us that we were in the right place.

    The HSWA and regulations provide good info on what facilities you must provide, none of which makes any inference that smoking should be provisioned for. The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990 is very clear that workplaces must be smokefree and what that actually means. I found The Ministry of Health guidance easier to interpret.

    The upshot: Based on everything looked at, there is no legal requirement to provide facilities for smoking or vaping. Doing so is a business decision and must be done in a manner that protects non-smokers from second-hand smoke. Considerations are 'what will smokers do when there aren't facilities for them'? In a previous company that provided no dedicated location for smokers, they found themselves a spot out the back by the recycling. This resulted in there being a cardboard fire!
  • Andreas Gabriel
    Employers are not obligated to provide a designated smoking or vaping area on site. However, failing to do so may lead smokers/vapers within your team to resort to using the footpath outside your premises. This could create a negative impression for clients/customers and is not conducive to the best interests of the business.
  • Keith Cresswell
    Hi Rebecca
    I have found it to be a tricky balancing act between no smoking legislation and our workers desire to light up or vape. Interestingly I have recently moved from an industry where smoking was a minority to one where most workers seem to smoke or vape. From a safety and wellbeing perspective, we encourage and provide info to quit but realise many have no desire to do so.
    I am for providing an area that's out of the weather that doesn't impact non-smokers as the time lost walking off site and impact on morale can be worse than enabling the habit - BTW I am a nonsmoker
  • Rob McAulay
    Hi Rebecca,
    I am unaware of any requirements to provide a designated place for smoking/vaping. I recall that a few years ago one of the meat works attempted to set up a smoking room with high level ventilation to enable staff to smoke without breaching the clothing requirements by having to go offsite but this was stopped as the room did not comply as it was inside.
    I do not believe you cannot set up a gazebo or similar outside on your site, the only requirement being it doesn't affect non-smokers.
    We have a similar issue on the outdoor spaces on our campuses as the Polytechnic smoking policy designated the whole worksite (indoor and outdoor) as being smoke free.
    As Keith has said it is a tricky balancing act.
  • Aaron Marshall
    As others have said, you are under no obligation to provide smoking/vaping areas.
    However, the risks here are more than simply safety. For me, seeing a group of smokers hanging around at a company's front doorstep, as the policy is obviously 'no smoking on site' really makes me think twice about going there.
  • Andrew
    Just another consideration, smoking cigarettes is seen as an addiction. To a lesser extent vaping probably is as well.

    Addictions are a toss between a physical and/or mental illness/disease.

    The Human Rights Act prevents employers discriminating against people with a disability. Which includes physical or psychiatric illnesses.

    There for the same, or similar facilities should be provided to smokers that are provided to non smokers.

    We have a covered exterior space (3 sides) with seating and an extractor fan
  • rebecca telfer
    Thanks Rob, great to hear from you
  • Alex
    We are fully smoke/vape free at all depots, external worksites and in company vehicles. Staff at external worksites are required to leave the worksite and remove branded clothing before smoking. Staff at the depot I'm at generally go and stand under a tree outside the back gate. The numbers of staff who do smoke have been steadily reducing over the years
  • rebecca telfer
    Thanks everyone for the great feedback, much appreciated.
  • Steffan St Clair-Newman
    we are also in the process of establishing an area on our site to provide shelter and receptacles for smoke butts and vape trash, currently due to us stating we are a smoke/vape free site, the smokers and vapers all drive out our front gate and park on the side of the road to smoke, couple of issues with this,
    1. we state we are a team and then we isolate some of our team because of a habit,
    2. the increase in traffic exiting/entering site increases the risk of an incident, they have to drive via two stop signs,
    3. with the roadside not being maintained to the usual standards by council, the risk of a fire is extremely high and this can be increased with rubbish being left as well.
    4. if one of the team smoking/vaping offsite is required urgently back in the work area, they then rush back onto site, park their car, run into area...multiple risks!
    So we conducted a survey with our site "we want you back", requesting their views on a smoking/vaping area etc... the outcome has been positive,.
    There is another organisation that is close to Darfield that has the same sort of policy as us and everyday you can see people parked by the main highway, this has led to an incident before with traffic.
    Smoke free is fantastic, but lets not isolate specific team members who may have an addiction etc...support them by providing good detailed and relevant material in a sheltered area offering advice on quitting or support they can get to deal to the addiction.
  • KeithH
    Interesting comments.
    However, I pose the question - is the tail wagging the dog?
    My belief is yes, the tail is wagging the dog and the dog is responsible for the situation.
    Whether the dog enjoys being wagged by the tail is, IMHO, reflected in the earlier comments.

    Jim Roddy says "It is almost a certainty that a regular tobacco habit will diminish smokers’ productivity, depreciate your real estate, annoy their non-smoking co-workers, and damage employee-manager relationships. Plus, managing this issue adds an unnecessary level of grief and liability to your business."

    According to Te Whatu Ora, the Health Status Report 2023 indicated "daily smoking rates had come down below 10%, although more recent data puts that number at 6.8%".

    So 90 (or 93.2) percent of the dog has to tolerate being wagged by a tail only worth 10 (or 6.8) percent. Sounds like an imbalance exists.

    A question that could be asked, is how did the dog get a tail like this? This could be where this gets slightly technical so for those who don't like technical, perhaps time to zone out.

    These are reasons I've observed over the last few years while I have studied.
    • Most business employ workers to do a task regardless if they fit in with the business culture,
    • Most people can't describe their organisation culture because they don't understand the components,
    • Business cultures don't generate money according to business owners, so there is little desire to understand them,
    • It's easier to deal with people than concepts,
    • Command and control management styles don't require understanding of position responsibilities and roles,
    • Time is money and concepts don't generate income,
    • Working in the business is easier than working on the business,
    • 97 percent of NZ businesses employ less than 19 people (Stats NZ).

    So merely employing people to do an activity rather than ensuring they fit in with how things are done, creates the situation (IMHO) where the tail wags the dog and the dog ends up chasing its own tail.

    And, "is refusing to hire a smoker considered discrimination? Although refusing to hire a smoker may not be considered fair or reasonable, it is not unlawful" NZ Business. Further, “New Zealand employers can advertise for non-smokers only, without violating the Human Rights Act” NZ Business.
    For organisations with smokers, perhaps it is time to either write or implement a non-smoking (and vaping) policy. When it comes to WEPR, remember the dog makes up the bulk and tail is just the waggy thing and the back end.

    Just my 2 cents worth.
  • Ross bucklar
    We recently reviewed our Policy and external areas are not required in legislation. It's more a policy determination for the organisation. We enable site managers to determine if designated areas are required, at a safe distance to avoid drift smoke. This is supported with access to smoking cessation information so that eventually these areas are no longer required at all.
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