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Our vision: Lower Hutt – NZ’s healthiest people

100% smokefree cafe doing it for the customers

When Cate and Jason Hall, owners of Ripe Coffee Roasters made their Lower Hutt café Mo Town 100% smokefree the decision was all about looking out for their customers.

“As the years have gone by we’ve become more aware of people smoking especially around food and coffee, for us it is not a good fit. This company is like a family and our customers are part of that family. Our café was how we built a community around us when we moved back to New Zealand after living overseas. We’re proud of the food and coffee we produce and want our customers to be able to relax and enjoy their experience with us without dealing with second hand smoke” said Cate Hall.

“We used to have smoking tables inside at our previous café Go Bang back in 2000. We quickly realised that our customers were annoyed by the second hand smoke, especially while eating. We became smokefree inside at that point, which made us early adopters of the smokefree movement. We don’t want to alienate smokers, this decision is just where we are at in our journey.”

 What is different about Mo Town is that the courtyard dining area could legally be a smoking area but the Halls have voluntarily made the call to make it smokefree too. Hutt City’s Smokefree Outdoor Public Places Policy covers outdoor pavement dining but not courtyards or garden bars that meet the Smokefree Environments Act. 

“Our courtyard is very popular, it is away from the hustle and bustle of the road and café and ideal for customers with children who can explore and play while their parents enjoy their coffee. We didn’t want those customers to have to deal with second hand smoke.”

“The feedback we get is overwhelmingly positive. The main question we get from our smoking customers is about where it is okay to smoke. Our regulars now stop in, enjoy their coffee and then if they need to smoke, do it after they have left”.

“The few times we’ve had to remind a customer that they are in a smokefree area they are always very apologetic and stop straight away. The signage really helps. It is very obvious what is expected.” It is also nice for staff not to have to pick up cigarette butts from the grounds and gardens”.

 “I remember when people thought that stopping smoking inside was never going to work, now look how far we have come, you never see people smoking inside now. We’re just taking the next step to making more and more spaces smokefree so that becomes normal too.”

One of the common concerns about going smokefree is what impact it might have on the businesses bottom line. “We’ve not noticed a difference as yet but it is still relatively early days ” says Cate Hall.