The results are in and they show Cantabrians are excited about smokefree venues. Even better, people are actively choosing to support venues that have smokefree outdoor dining areas.
These are part of the findings from the Fresh Air project, a collaboration between the Cancer Society and Canterbury District Health Board, who with the support of the Christchurch City Council, ran a summer trial to stub out smoking in the outdoor areas in a number of cafes and restaurants in the city.
During the six month project, 20 venues were invited to make their outdoor dining areas smokefree. Eighteen took up the challenge and became totally smokefree hospitality venues.
Former manager of the Ilex café in the Botanical Gardens, Liz Parlane says they had a really positive reaction to the project trial. "It gave us permission to say we're smokefree and reinforce that the whole park is a smokefree area." Current manager Amy Stones says it was a useful way to raise awareness among tourists of the city's no smoking areas.
Tania Hughes, who owns Savoir in Merivale says the transition to no smoking outdoors went really smoothly. "It's all been positive, and I've had really good feedback from my customers."
Liz Chesterman, chief executive of the Cancer Society Canterbury and West Coast division says the Cancer Society was heartened by the positive response to the summer trial. "The results of this project show that New Zealand's goal of being smokefree by 2025 is achievable. We believe this is the beginning of a groundswell towards smokefree communities everywhere."
Kerry Marshall, manager communities team, Community and Public Health, praised the partnerships with the Cancer Society, Canterbury DHB, Community and Public Health, City Council and all the business owners that made the project work. She also congratulated the cafes on having the courage to try something different.
"These business owners have been willing to take part in something innovative. I commend them for being brave and stepping out of their comfort zone."
In its response, Councillor Glenn Livingstone said on behalf of the Christchurch City Council that it was taking its mandate as a clean, green city seriously and literally.
"We hope more venues see this as a positive move. It's not only proved itself good for the community, but also good for business."
Emily Box of the Cancer Society says half of the pilot venues reported they had customers visiting specifically because they had smokefree outdoor areas.
Other results showed that out of the 18 venues…
4 reported an increase in customer numbers
12 reported a decrease in the number of complaints about others smoking
14 recorded more positive customer comments
3 said more people were using the outdoor area.
With smoking still the leading cause of preventable death in New Zealand, Emily says the results show there is an appetite among Kiwis to embrace a smokefree environment. "The next step for the Fresh Air project is to share our results, and encourage more venues to join the Fresh Air movement, and help move New Zealand closer to its Smokefree 2025 goal."
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