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On Friday 12 December at the Kaikohe District Court, the Ministry of Health in conjunction with Northland District Health Board successfully prosecuted Rightside Properties, the licensee/proprietors of the Kaikohe Hotel under the Smokefree Environments Act.
The Kaikohe Hotel had been the subject of a number of complaints relating to smoking inside the hotel.
National Director of Tobacco Control for the Ministry of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, said that it's now four years since the legislation came into effect, and the vast majority of premises comply with the law. "There's a huge level of support for the legislation from the public who appreciate the fact they can now go out to bars, restaurants and clubs and enjoy a Smokefree environment.
"It is very disappointing that despite warnings from Northland DHB’s public and populaton health unit, the licensee of the Kaikohe Hotel did not meet their obligations under the Smokefree Environments Act.
“There were repeated incidents where the licensee continued to allow smoking inside the hotel.
“Rightside Properties was fined $5,800 plus $520 court costs and $450 solicitor’s fees.
“This is one of the largest penalties imposed in New Zealand under the Smokefree Environments Act and reflects the level of disapproval from the community and the serious view taken of the offences by the judge.
“This is the first Smokefree prosecution in the Northland area and came about as a result of many complaints from the public and reflects public opinion that smoking in such enclosed public places is not acceptable. The Ministry of Health will continue to prosecute where there is blatant flouting of the law.
“This prosecution sends a clear message to other licensees who are breaking the law,” Dr Bloomfield said. “The licensees of all licensed premises are required to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure that no person smokes in an internal area on their premises," Ashley Bloomfield said.
The Ministry of Health, in consultation with industry has developed a number of practical steps to assist licensees. These steps include:
Having a set of procedures on the active management of patrons who smoke inside licensed premises
Smokefree signage at all points of entry and inside the premises
Removal of ashtrays from all internal areas
Staff training on the procedures and how to deal with patrons who smoke.
Further information is available on the Ministry of Health website: www.moh.govt.nz/smokefreelaw