Aim: To briefly review the evidence on the hazard from, and control of, second-hand smoke (SHS) in New Zealand workplace settings.
Methods: Medline searches and searches of New Zealand health databases for unpublished reports.
Results: The New Zealand evidence suggests that over 30% of workers continue to be exposed to SHS in workplace settings. The best available estimate is that SHS exposure in these settings causes around 100 avoidable deaths per year from lung cancer, coronary heart disease and stroke collectively. National survey data and studies in hospitality industry settings (measuring nicotine in hair and cotinine in saliva), strongly indicate that smoke-free workplaces result in reduced exposure to SHS. The data indicate that there is widespread concern regarding SHS and clear support for smoke-free workplaces.
Conclusions: Available New Zealand data are fully consistent with the extensive international data indicating that smoke-free policies in workplaces can improve health protection for workers. New legislation is likely to enhance the control of SHS in New Zealand, but additional actions such as a mass media campaign on SHS are also desirable.