Auckland Council's crackdown on smoking in outdoor dining areas will harm business for some hospitality operators, says the Restaurant Association.

About 800 Auckland restaurants, cafes and bars with outdoor dining areas have banned smoking, following amendments to the Council's outdoor dining licences.

The move to curb smoking in al fresco dining areas is part of Auckland Council's wider plan for Auckland to be a smokefree city by 2025.

Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said some hospitality operators had flagged sales slumps since the changes had come into effect.


An association survey found 25 per cent of its members were against the ban and believed their business would lose revenue because of it.

"I've heard from members who said they have been affected by it and have seen a decrease in revenue," Bidois said.

"One business in particular is in a spot where it gets people coming in after work for drinks and they used to sit outside, quite a few of them were smokers, and [the owner] noticed a big downturn since changes have come in."

While some members were opposed to it, the majority of business owners surveyed said the move was positive.

"The majority of our members have indicated they either agree with it or are neutral, but there are businesses that are affected by it.

"Some businesses have a large clientele of smokers and therefore their trade will suffer."

Outdoor dining licences when granted and renewed will have an amended condition requiring businesses to ban smoking of tobacco products in that area.

Auckland Council principal licensing specialist Rob Abbott said licence holders were required to enforce the ban and make sure their customers were complying.


At this stage there is no fine for businesses that breach such obligations but enforcement from the Council would work on a warning basis.

"It would take a couple of instances, two, three, maybe even up to four - it depends what the circumstances are and whether or not they realised it was going on ... to lose their outdoor dining licence," Abbott said.

"They pay for it each year so it's obviously commercially viable for them [to comply]."

Council staff such as alcohol licensing inspectors and others policing hospitality requirements such as health, safety and hygiene standards will surveil the ban.

Bidois said she believed it would be hard for businesses to police the ban.

"If people want to have a cigarette they can be pretty determined in those situations."

She also raised the issue of large numbers of visitors to Auckland, many of who would not have experienced smoking bans in such social situations.

Bidois said she believed certain licences should be exempt from the ban.

"If the council wanted to regulate it that could be an option, where you can put forward a case for the reasons why they need it and the council could review it on a case by case basis," she said.

Abbott said a flexible licence for pubs and taverns would not happen.

"Why should pubs be any different to restaurants? It's a public area that is being licenced to a business, it's the same for everybody, it's a level playing field. If restaurants owners have to abide by it why wouldn't pubs?."

Council research from 2016 shows 90 per cent of Aucklanders would be more likely to visit an outdoor dining area if it was smokefree.

It found 75 per cent of Aucklanders were supportive of smokefree outdoor dining areas.

Auckland councillor Penny Hulse, chairwoman of the environment and community committee, said the Auckland Council wanted to ensure a clean environment.

"Smokefree al fresco dining areas are a health benefit to serving staff and smokers trying to quit, as well as providing a healthy and clean environment for customers of our many great hospitality venues," Hulse said.

"This is a proactive and tangible way for the council to endorse the smokefree message and denormalise smoking in our public spaces."

Auckland Council began rolling out smoking bans for public areas in November last year, including in civic and shared spaces, beaches and sports grounds.

The council is providing businesses with free signs to help implement the ban.

Views from the viaduct

James Allen:

What adults do in their private life is up to them, but to bring that habit into a public space is quite different, so keep it at home.

Zetin Moza at the Wynyard Quarter.
Zetin Moza at the Wynyard Quarter.

Zetin Moza:

When you're sitting in a cafe or a restaurant and suddenly you smell that smoke, it just puts you off. I'm not a fan of second-hand smoke to begin with, so whether it was a restaurant or next to me I would have the same reaction.

Toby Raine: If we're sitting here like this [at Wynyard Quarter] I don't want to smell cigarettes, it's gonna annoy me.

Claudius Van Wyk: From a health perspective, from a social perspective, it's only an improvement.