Smoke Free England: the Latest Situation

Awareness of the Smoke Free Law

Recently undertaken research indicates that there is a high level of awareness regarding the UK Smoke Free law and what it means for individuals, businesses and employers. A study undertaken by ICM Research on behalf of the Department of Health back in April 2007 (just before the law went live) showed that as many as ninety three percent of the adult population knew the law was soon to be passed. The same survey showed eighty nine percent knew this back in February.

Of the 1700 adults that were surveyed there was a strong indication that the majority knew not only what the Smoke Free law was; that it was coming into play on July 1st 2007.

Additional reports stemming from research undertaken by Continental Research, again on behalf of the Department of Health showed that over the period including April and May of 2007 eighty nine percent of businesses were aware of the smoke free law and an increased number of sixty eight percent knew the exact date of implementation. Ninety percent of businesses surveyed in April and May, before the launch in July, reported that they believed they were all set to introduce the new Smoke Free legislation into their workplace which was an increase on the seventy percent who felt they were ready in February.

Possibly the most telling statistic that came out of research during this period was that eighty eight percent of the businesses surveyed felt they knew and understand the legislation, what it would entail and the part they had to play prior to the law actually being activated on July 1st.

A Timeline to Show How We Got Where We Are Now

March 2007

The Government Publishes the Official Guidance for the Smoke Free Law

In April 2007 the government sent out their official guide to the Smoke Free law to businesses who were registered with Companies House and who were considered to be actively trading. This guide or pack was set up to ensure that the businesses / employers had everything they needed from resources to information in order to be ready for the July 1st 2007 date of release for the Smoke Free law.

The aim of this law has always been of course to ensure that everyone may enjoy their work and social time without any risk of being exposed to harmful second hand smoke.

Full guidance, information and examples of signage and a wealth of other resources regarding the Smoke Free law may be viewed and downloaded from here.

The Complete and Final Legislation Regulation Documents are Printed

Also in March 2007 the government released the five sets of documents which make up and explain in full details the ins and outs of the Smoke Free legislation. This legislation was passed in Parliament in 2006 as part of the Health Act (part 1).

The Smoke Free Regulations may be found and read here.

December 2006

The Date for the Introduction / Launch of the Smoke Free Law is Announced

While the work behind the Smoke Free law had been ongoing for some time the actual implementation date wasn’t released until December 2006. It was down to Patricia Hewitt, the Government Health Secretary to announce to all that from July 1st 2007 the legally bound restrictions would come into play in England.

The launch of the Smoke Free England campaign was also put in place to help businesses (as many as 3.7 million) to plan and prepare for the launch.
At the same time the DOH (Department of Health) released a published report which included the DOH’s received responses to their consultation regarding the upcoming legislation, specifically how it would be enforced and what regulations would cover what premises.

July 2006

Smoke Free Premises and Vehicles (DOH) was Published

Back in 2006 the Government (DOH) published their consultation on Smoke Free Premises and Vehicles. These regulations were to shape the Smoke Free law as was passed on July 1st 2007 and included information on what signage would be appropriate and required, who would be responsible for enforcing the law and more.
To read more about this public consultation click here (PDF file).

June 2006

The Health Bill Becomes the Health Act

The House of Commons and the House of Lords took nine months to carefully consider and consult on the Health Bill (which turned the idea of a Smoke Free law into an actual law). After the Bill was passed and received its Royal Assent the Health Act 2006 was born, part one of which set out the official plans for the soon to be introduced Smoke Free law.

Find out more about this historical occurrence here.

March 2006

Smoking in Public Places Report Released

The government put together an official response to the report from the House of Commons entitled “Smoking in Public Places” and published it in March 2006.
The Smoking in Public Places report may be seen and read here (PDF)

February 2006

Health Bill Amendment Goes to the Vote

A large majority voted in the House of Commons on the fourteenth February 2014 to amend the Health Bill to ensure that the upcoming Smoke Free legislation included the banning of smoking in public places such as clubs (i.e. membership clubs) and all premises which were licenced.

December 2005

House of Commons Report Published

The report from the House of Commons Select Committee entitled “Smoking in Public Places” was first published in 2006 (December) and laid out the early provisions which later made up the foundation of the Smoke Free legislation.

Read about this in more detail here.

October 2005

The Health Bill Which Introduced the Smoke Free Legislation Initially Was Published

The Health Bill later became the Health Act and this Act is what solidified the Smoke Free law ready for introduction officially. Patricia Hewitt, the Secretary of State for Health hailed the bill as being a package which signalled a huge, positive and practical step forward. The Health Act (and the Smoke Free law) was hailed as the legislation which would reduce the number of smokers, the number of people exposed to second hand smoke and the number of smoking and passive smoking related incidences of cancer, lung and heart disease as well as the many other health related issues.

June 2005

Public Proposals Begin on Possible Smoke Free Legislation

After the DOH published the White Paper Choosing Health their commitment to introducing smoke free legislation led to a public consultation which received over fifty seven thousand responses during a twelve week period. These numbers included four thousand responses from owners or managers of licenced premises and over fifty thousand five hundred from individuals. Information gleaned as part of the consultation led to the production of the legislation to ensure that workplaces and public places became legal smoke free.

WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the UK

In February 2005 the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) came into play and the UK joined one hundred and forty one other nations to become part of it. Any party who is involved in the FCTC publically recognises that scientific data and ongoing research has with doubt shown that being exposed to second hand smoke or smoking directly causes numerous health issues, disabilities and even death.

Aspart of the treaty members are asked to provide protection from those exposed to tobacco smoke in any capacity in public and social places as well as on transport and in their work place. This is of course exactly what the 2007 Smoke Free legislation went on to achieve.

Read more about the FCTC here (document opens in a new window).


Choosing Health: The DOH White Paper is Published

The key points in this White Paper as written and published by the Department of Health clearly showed their plan for supporting individuals to understand their health and their health choices better in order to make wiser choices for themselves. The paper also included the Government’s clear intention to education the public on the wisdom and need for a smoke free law which would effectively change the health of the UK and not incidentally save the NHS millions if not more.

Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health (SCOTH) Publish Addition Finding on Second Hand Smoke Risks

SCOTH are a Government committee working independently to assess the risks associated with second hand smoke, specifically the impact it has on health. Using data from 1998 to 2004 the report clearly shows that the original claims made by SCOTH in 1998 regarding the level of risk to those exposed to second hand smoke were correct. The report goes on to add additional confirmation of this fact based on the latest statistic and information available at the time.


We Need Smoke Free Public Places and Workplaces Announce Chief Medical Officer

Professor (Sir) Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer announced as part of his 2003 Annual Report that judging by the evidence available that it was important for places of work, public places, indeed all enclosed spaces to become smoke free

Sir Donaldson was clear that taking this step would reap numerous health related benefits to the UK people and that he was keenly in favour of legislation which would allow individuals to enjoy their work and leisure time in a smoke free environment.


SCOTH Confirms the Health Risks Associated with Second Hand (Passive) Smoking

SCOTH, the Government’s independent Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health released a report in 1998 which included a conclusive chapter which claimed that scientific data proved without doubt that second hand smoke was a cause of lung cancer, heart disease and respiratory illness in children. Additionally SCOTH concluded that second hand smoke was also a contributing factor in explaining SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), increased asthma attacks and middle ear disease.

The recommendation SCOTH made on the back of this report regarding second hand smoking was to strongly encourage the introduction of smoke free environments.

Read more on this first SCOTH report regarding second hand smoke here.

Smoking Kills White Paper is Published

In 1998 the Government publishing this particular White Paper confirming that they recognised the fact that a smoke free work and public place environment for all would be ideal.

Clearly from 1998 to 2007significantprogress was made in the realisation of the dangers of second hand and first person tobacco smoke exposure and the need for smoke free public and work place environment.