Civil infrastructure firm Dempsey Wood today signed a Smokefree Pledge with Stop Smoking Service Ready Steady Quit at Dempsey Wood’s Penrose, Auckland offices. The pledge affirms Dempsey Wood’s commitment to creating a smokefree workplace by 2025.

Hāpai Te Hauora is applauding Dempsey Wood’s focus on the wellbeing of its staff. Stephanie Erick, General Manager of the National Tobacco Control Advocacy Service at Hāpai says, "This sends a signal to the whole construction industry that workers’ health and wellbeing is essential, and that changes can be made when employers and employees share their goals. It also sends a message to workers, that they can choose to work for companies that value a smokefree culture."

Dempsey Wood employs 429 staff and an equal number of subcontractors across 30-40 sites in Auckland and Waikato. At the signing ceremony Dempsey Wood Managing Director Conal Dempsey announced plans to have a smokefree workforce by 2025. He also acknowledged how difficult it can be to kick a smoking habit. A former pack and half a day smoker from age 18 to 25, Dempsey said "I’ve faced some challenges in my life, but quitting would be the hardest thing I’ve ever done."

Dempsey Wood has identified that 95 staff - roughly a quarter of its employees - currently smoke. The company’s Manager of Health, Safety, Quality and Environment, Rae Camons, says he prefers an inclusive, collaborative approach when working with staff who are ready to quit and this extends to their families. "We’re about building on success," says Camons. The firm is also considering new policies including smokefree vehicles.

Mihi Blair, Operations Manager for Procare, which runs the Ready Steady Quit programme reminded attendees at the launch that Smokefree 2025 is our collective goal. "Without companies like Dempsey Wood leading the way I don’t think we’d be able to get there," said Blair.

Hāpai Te Hauora hopes that Dempsey Wood’s actions will spur other companies and their staff toward building a smokefree Aotearoa together. Hāpai Te Hauora CEO Selah Hart says, "There will be financial benefits as well as health benefits for the workers. The company benefits too, with a workforce that’s fitter and better off. Post Covid-19, with a renewed focus on public health and welfare, we hope that this is the first of many such positive initiatives."