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Poor smoke-free status of airports in a country with a smoke-free goal: New Zealand
  1. Nick Wilson,
  2. Amanda C Jones,
  3. George W Thomson
  1. Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Dr Nick Wilson, Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington 9016, New Zealand; nick.wilson{at}


Background To survey the smoke-free status of airports in New Zealand (NZ), a country with a smoke-free goal for 2025, and where public indoor areas are required to be smoke-free.

Methods A cross-sectional survey of a convenience sample of airports with data collection on smoke-free signage, observed smoking behaviour, cigarette butt litter and designated smoking areas.

Results A total of 23 airports were surveyed, including all those for the 10 most populous urban areas in NZ (82% of all airports with scheduled flights on the main islands). There were no smoke-free signs found at entrances/exits to the terminal building in 26% of airports, with a mean of 1.7 such signs per entrance/exit. Only one airport had any signage stating that all the grounds were smoke-free. Qualitatively, the signage was often small in size (<15 cm diameter). There was also ambiguity as to what the signage related to (indoors or outdoors). Observed smoking and vaping outside of the main entrances/exits was relatively uncommon, but the great majority of these sites (91%) had discarded cigarette butts present. Most airports (70%) had some form of designated or implied outdoor smoking area, with 38% of these areas being within 10 m distance of a terminal entrance/exit.

Conclusions Despite this country having a smoke-free goal, it has largely deficient smoke-free policies at its airports. There is a case to make airport grounds entirely smoke-free as part of an upgrade of the national smoke-free law.

  • environment
  • secondhand smoke
  • end game
  • public policy

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  • Contributors NW and GWT initiated the research. NW and ACJ collected the data. NW compiled the database and analysed the data. The first draft of the manuscript was written by NW and revised by all the authors.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.