Alice Cowdrey is a reporter for the Stratford Press.

Taranaki farmers stub out smoking

Eastlock Farm Manaia has gone smokefree.
Eastlock Farm Manaia has gone smokefree.

Some Taranaki farmers have prohibited smoking on their farms - citing cuts in productivity and health risks caused by second-hand smoke.

Signs have been erected and contractors notified, with more farmers taking smoking into consideration when putting together health and safety policy and procedures.

"We have for a long time been quite happy about the idea of New Zealand becoming smokefree because we find that people who smoke cigarettes are just plain ignorant - they don't care about lighting up down wind of you," says Eastlock Farm Manaia contract milker Gill Klenner.

Gill says her husband Terry had been a non-smoker all of his life and made his feelings quite obvious about her own smoking habit. She gave up in 1998 after being a pretty heavy chain smoker, puffing on 60 rollies per day.

Gill says her and Terry consulted with the farm owners before banning smoking on the farm and they had no objections. Terry also notified contractors before putting the no smoking sign up which is on the tanker track entering the farm.

"We want to be able to go places and not have smoke drifting at us and have people lighting up, says Gill.

"Terry often says to smokers that smoke around him 'You have a choice whether you smoke or not but I don't have a choice whether I breathe or not'."

The New Zealand Government has set a goal so that by 2025 fewer than 5 per cent of New Zealanders will be smokers.

A Fonterra spokesperson says the company's policy was that smoking was prohibited in truck cabs, on farms or near milk sheds. If truck drivers were travelling, they were able to light up somewhere like the side of the road or a designated smoking area.

Dairy farmers Bryce and Amanda Savage don't allow smoking on their farms, but allow workers to smoke outside farm houses.

The couple - who are sharemilkers in Hawera, farm owners in Stratford and lease a farm in Eltham - put the rules in place four years a go after realising that it was affecting the productivity of their staff.

The "nail on the coffin" was seeing a worker light up while they were busy weighing calves.

"I think for us it was about productivity. When at work it's work time and they respect that," says Amanda.

She says they had not come across vaping yet but if they do, the same rules would apply.
Amanda says they were up front about their smokefree status when they employed staff and their employees respected their rules.

Three out of their four current staff are smokers. Amanda says the rule not only kept the work environment clean, but helped workers cut back and form healthier habits.

"It's just part of coming onto our farm. We are really proud that we are a smokefree farm. Its a great working environment," Amanda says.

"That's just our culture," says Bryce.

OnFarmSafety managing director Bronwyn Muir says they were seeing quite a lot of farmers taking smoking into consideration when putting together health and safety policy and procedures.

It is a legal requirement now that all workplaces are smokefree.

Even though farms are in the outdoors, farmers are still taking it into account, especially in consideration of fellow workers. It also posed risks in other ways like fuelling up, using chemicals and milking as putting something in your mouth around animals can invite bugs.

Bronwyn says no smoking rules can be enforced through signage or a code of conduct. Although some farmers chose to have a smokefree policy, others had a smoking policy which made allowances for workers to smoke in certain places on the farm.

Bronwyn says people are a lot more conscious of smoking these days, and although it was their choice to smoke, they were mindful in making sure other people were not subjected to it.

- Stratford Press

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