Auckland to ban smoking in licenced areas outside bars, restaurants

Smokers are being kicked to the kerb in Auckland. They'll no longer be able to light up in licenced areas outside bars and restaurants.

But the policy is already frustrating pub owners who say more cigarette butts will end up in city gutters.

An evening out on Ponsonby Rd might mean a few drinks and maybe a few cigarettes while you're sitting on the street outside the bar – but not anymore.

"It makes no sense to me why the council's doing this," says Chapel Bar and Bistro owner Luke Dallow. "It's not a revenue-gathering exercise for them; maybe it's just a feel-good exercise."

Auckland Council is aiming to make the city smoke-free, in line with the Government's smoke-free 2025 goal. The latest step is banning smoking tobacco at licenced premises. It's rolling out as bars and restaurants renew their outdoor dining licences.

"Basically the policy is you cannot smoke on a council-rented or leased bit of land, but one centimetre outside that leased bit of land you can smoke, so for us it's ridiculous," says Mr Dallow.

Bar owners say that means more butts are going on the ground. Mr Dallow says when people could sit at the tables and smoke they'd use the ashtrays; now his staff are cleaning up butts from the garden and gutter.

"We probably clean up around 100 butts every morning," says Mr Dallow. "That's before they blow down the road every morning outside our area."

Patrons Newshub spoke to were supportive of smoke-free dining areas, but were baffled by the policy.

"Although yes it's great that you're saying no smoking outside, the fact that someone could be sitting on that bench and smoking seems pretty ridiculous to be honest," says one.

"I think they should have designated smoking areas because if someone comes to a bar where you expect to be with other adults you expect to have a choice whether you smoke or not smoke," says another.

Auckland Council says the success of the police depends on social pressure, hoping shunting smokers to the street makes lighting up so inconvenient people don't bother.