More outdoor dining areas could become smoke-free

Christchurch's cafes and restaurants will soon be asked to make their outdoor dining areas smoke-free.

Smoke-free Canterbury is developing a voluntary smoke-free outdoor dining trial where it hopes to convince about 50 cafes and restaurants to make their outdoor dining areas smoke-free.

Cancer Society health promotion and IT services manager Martin Witt said the trial aimed to show owners that running their cafes and restaurants entirely smoke-free would not be detrimental to business.

The trial, which could last about six months, was in the planning stages, but Witt said the society would be approaching businesses later this month to see if they wanted to be involved.

He hoped to start the trial next summer. 

The Christchurch City Council had already thrown its support behind the trial, but there was no talk of banning smoking from outdoor dining areas completely.

Witt said the trial would be voluntary and not enforceable.

"I don't see any reason to start going on about bans. This is very much about social norms and what is acceptable."

Once the trial had ended, he hoped the participants would continue with the smoke-free policy.

"If a cafe has gone smoke-free and it's accepted, why would they want to go back?"

The trial would help contribute to New Zealand's goal of becoming smoke-free by 2025, Witt said.

Hospitality New Zealand's Canterbury branch president Peter Morrison said several Christchurch bars already banned smoking from their outdoor areas. 

He said the association did not have a smoking policy, so it would be up to the individual members to decide if they wanted to be part of the trial. 

"We'll let the market forces decide that. It's a dying habit anyway." 

The council's communities, housing and economic development committee would discuss at its meeting on Thursday what support it could provide to Smoke-free Canterbury for the trial.

The council decided last year to make the city's 2400 bus stops and 435 bus shelters smoke-free, as well as the spaces outside the main entrances and exits of all council-owned buildings including the Civic Offices, service centres, libraries, recreation centres and community halls.

 - Stuff