Smokefree Outdoor Areas - A guide for cafés, restaurants and bars

CAFEwebAuckland Council, as part of their commitment to Smokefree 2025, now requires all cafés, restaurants and bars with a licence for trading on the footpath to be smokefree.

You are encouraged to make other outdoor areas smokefree as well. This guide will help you transition to having smokefree outdoor areas, with background information, tips, FAQs and a checklist for going smokefree.


The benefits of smokefree outdoor areas

  • Customers want smokefree outdoor dining. In a survey conducted by Auckland Council in 2016, 90% of Aucklanders said they would be more likely or as likely to visit outdoor dining areas if they are smokefree.
  • It protects customers and staff from the harms of second-hand smoke and prevents smoke drifting inside. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, even outdoors.
  • It protects our children. Kids copy what they see, so reducing exposure to smoking reduces the likelihood that children will start to smoke.
  • It helps people quit, and helps those who have quit to stay smokefree. Most people who smoke want to quit. Exposure to smoking can trigger cravings and make it harder for those trying to quit.
  • It reduces litter and means your staff don’t have to deal with ashtrays or cigarette butts.

“It will really enhance the dining experience for the majority of people who come here.”
- Mission Bay Café owner Mark Goldstine on smokefree outdoor dining


Tips for making your outdoor areas smokefree

Get your staff on-board

The transition to having smokefree outdoor areas will go more smoothly if your staff are involved in the process. Make sure your staff know:

  • Why your outdoor areas are going smokefree.
  • The benefits of having smokefree areas.
  • How to communicate with customers about going smokefree outdoors.
  • How to approach a customer who starts smoking and politely inform them that the area is now smokefree.

This is also a good opportunity to support staff members who want to quit smoking. Resources and advice can be found at

Make sure your customers know

29052015NZHCLCAFE09webCommunicating with your customers is the key to having successful smokefree outdoor areas.

  • Signage is an effective way to inform your customers that your outdoor areas are smokefree. Display signs in prominent places in your outdoor areas. Smokefree signs can be ordered through the Auckland Council’s website.
  • Face-to-face communication with regular customers will help spread the word about smokefree outdoor areas. It’s also a good opportunity to let them know why your outdoor areas have gone smokefree. Most customers will be supportive.
  • Remove any ashtrays, matches and lighters from your outdoor areas, as these can be interpreted as cues that it’s ok to smoke.
  • Advertise your smokefree outdoor areas on social media and in any other regular communications you have. This is also a great way to discuss the reasons for going smokefree outdoors.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Won’t making outdoor areas smokefree be bad for business?

National and international evidence indicates that there is a positive or neutral impact on business from making outdoor areas smokefree. Feedback from businesses in New Zealand and overseas is that smokefree outdoor areas provide a better environment for staff and are more enjoyable for customers.

Do we have to go smokefree outdoors?

Smokefree requirements will be included in all council footpath trading licences when they are renewed. That means if you have a dining or bar area on the footpath, it must be smokefree. If you have other outdoor areas, you can make them smokefree too.

Can we have designated smoking areas?

Licensed areas of footpaths or public space must be completely smokefree. You are encouraged to make other outdoor areas smokefree too, as smoke easily drifts to non-smoking areas and exposes others to the harmful effects of second-hand smoke. Having a completely smokefree establishment is easier to manage and provides the best health benefits.

What about electronic cigarettes (vaping)?

You are entitled, but not required, to make your smokefree outdoor areas vapefree as well.


SAM CAFE 600x4005 easy steps to making your outdoor areas smokefree

Here is a checklist to help you make your outdoor areas smokefree:

  • Brief your staff on the change to smokefree outdoor areas.
  • Put smokefree signage in highly visible areas outside.
  • Remove ashtrays, matches and lighters.
  • Train your staff on how to approach customers who start smoking in your smokefree outdoor areas.
  • Tell your customers about going smokefree outdoors through social media, face-to-face communication and other advertising channels.

This guide was prepared by Cancer Society Auckland Northland as part of our work towards Smokefree 2025. For more information, email