What is the Fresh Air Project?

The Fresh Air Project is an initiative supporting hospitality venues to have outdoor dining areas that are totally smokefree and vapefree.  Venues are provided with a range of free signs including wall signs, and window stickers.  

The Fresh Air Project started life as a 6 month pilot in Christchurch but since then many more venues have joined in projects across New Zealand. More information about regions can be found in the Fresh Air regions tab. 


Is smokefree outdoor dining happening elsewhere?

Yes, there are already venues in around New Zealand that have gone totally smokefree. Some areas have regulation for smokefree outdoor dining areas whilst others are promoting smokefree outdoor dining on a voluntary basis.

There is growing support from businesses who want to offer the most enjoyable dining experience possible for their customers.


What about the rights of smokers?

The pilot is not about “banning” smoking and being negative to smokers. It is encouraging customers to refrain from smoking whilst at the venue and contribute towards a cleaner, greener dining experience for all.  Smokefree areas support people to quit, reduce prompts (cravings) to smoke, set a good example to children and young people and make it easier for people on their quit journey to quit and stay smokefree.

It is estimated that 80% of smokers wish they’d never started smoking. Many smokers support shared public spaces being smokefree.

All participating venues have chosen to promote their businesses as totally smokefree to reflect what most customers want.


In practice how will the smokefree and vapefree areas work?

Customers are simply asked to refrain from smoking and vaping whilst at the venue. Experience from around NZ indicates that smokers rarely object to these respectful requests to help provide a cleaner, greener outdoor environment. The Fresh Air project has a set of guidelines which we ask venues to sign once they agree to become a Fresh Air venue. It is not a legally binding document but sets out what being a Fresh Air venue means in practice.

To view the guidelines, click here. 


Can I encourage my favourite hospitality venue to become totally smokefree?

Yes, you can.  New Zealand has an amazing selection of hospitality venues. If you have a favourite place that would be even better totally smokefree and vapefree, simply say how great it would be if their outside area was smokefree and ask them to contact the Cancer Society to find out more about going totally smokefree. Please see the contact tab to find out how to reach us. 

Contact Us


Questions from a business perspective:


Are smokefree outdoor areas business friendly?

Yes! Evidence from New Zealand and overseas indicates that businesses can benefit from going smokefree. Generally, the impact is either positive or neutral. After all, only 15% of New Zealanders still smoke, meaning your venue will appeal to the 85% of New Zealanders who don’t smoke.


But what about visitors?

Visitors to New Zealand already respect our smokefree laws and council policies. There is nothing to suggest making outdoor dining areas smokefree will be any different.  After bars and restaurants became smokefree in 2004, business actually improved!   With clear signage and polite reminders about being smokefree most visitors will respect the smokefree status.


Can we have a designated smoking area instead?

The short answer is no. The Fresh Air Project recognises that separated dining areas still expose customers and staff to the harmful effects of second hand smoke. Smoke easily drifts to non- smoking areas. Having a completely smokefree establishment is easier to communicate and manage and it also provides the best health benefits.


My staff smoke, will they be forced to quit?

No one will be forced to quit, however going totally smokefree may prompt smoking staff to think about quitting. If staff do want to quit, we can help them find their local stop smoking service. If staff want to smoke, venue owners need to be clear where they can still smoke i.e. off premise or well away from customers where smoke will not drift into the outdoor dining area.


What happens if a customer wants to smoke?    

No one wants to confront their own customers, so we recommend that you have:


What is the Smokefree New Zealand 2025 goal?

The Government has set a goal for less than 5% of the population will smoke by 2025. Smokefree outdoor dining will help achieve this goal by making smoking in public less normal. More smokefree areas reduce exposure to second hand smoke, encourage people to quit and help those trying to quit to stay smokefree.


What about E-cigarettes and vaping?

An electronic cigarette or e-cigarette is a device that does not burn or use tobacco leaves but vaporises a solution, usually containing nicotine together with other chemicals, some of which are considered toxic.

E-cigarettes when used [vaping], can give the impression of smoking, emitting large clouds of vapour. Although considered less harmful than tobacco smoking, they are not risk free and the impact on health associated with their prolonged use or exposure to vapour for the user or bystander are not known.

For these reasons the Fresh Air Project requires smokefree venues to be vapefree as well.