New council policy in Tāmaki Makaurau and Whangarei will see smoking prohibited outside of hundreds of cafes and bars, but more consistent regulations are needed.

As part of new licensing rules which came into effect earlier this year, Auckland council has made more than 800 restaurants, cafes, and bars with outdoor areas smokefree.

Similar developments have also been made by Whangarei District council this week, who aim to make Alfresco dining, public spaces in the City Centre, mall, town basin, and beaches smokefree by end of 2020.

"This decision is a significant step towards achieving smokefree 2025 and we acknowledge the support of council and hope that other councils in Northland will follow suit," says Jenni Moore, Manager of Cancer Society Northland.

These policies demonstrate whānau wellbeing being prioritised on many levels; reducing the risk of second hand smoke, denormalising smoking for rangatahi, and ensuring the health and safety of hospitality kaimahi.

This is a great start but public health advocates urge more consistent regulations should be put in place to avoid confusion.  For example vaping - an effective tobacco harm-reduction tool for many - will be prohibited in Whangarei Council policy, but not in Auckland.

Hāpai General Manager of Tobacco Control, Mihi Blair, believes that more consistent regulation from Ministry of Health could provide better guidance to regional councils in creating smokefree policy.

"We are more mobile than ever- particularly Māori. Better regulations could provide guidance for more consistent smokefree policies across regions, helping avoid confusion and maximising on the health gains".