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Poor smoke-free status of airports in a country with a smoke-free goal: New Zealand


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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