Business and employers

What do I do checklist

Employers, managers and those in charge of smokefree premises and vehicles will need to:

  • display 'no-smoking' signs in smokefree premises and vehicles
  • take reasonable steps to ensure that staff, customers/members and visitors are aware that premises and vehicles are legally required to be smokefree
  • remove any existing indoor smoking rooms
  • ensure that no one smokes in smokefree premises or vehicles

You may also want to take these supportive measures:

  • develop a smokefree policy in consultation with staff
  • offer staff training to help them understand the new law and what their responsibilities are
  • provide your staff and customers with support to quit smoking

The Government has produced an official guide which explains everything you need to know about the new law and what you need to do to comply with it. Additional guidance leaflets are also available for both businesses and individuals, along with supporting materials. These can be downloaded from this site.

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Which places must be smokefree?

Smokefree premises

The new smokefree law applies to virtually all 'enclosed' and 'substantially enclosed' public places and workplaces. This includes both permanent structures and temporary ones such as tents and marquees. This also means that indoor smoking rooms in public places and workplaces are no longer allowed.

Premises are considered 'enclosed' if they have a ceiling or roof and (except for doors, windows or passageways) are wholly enclosed either on a permanent or temporary basis.

Premises are considered 'substantially enclosed' if they have a ceiling or roof, but have an opening in the walls, which is less than half the total area of the walls. The area of the opening does not include doors, windows or any other fittings that can be opened or shut.

If you require further guidance on whether your premises are 'enclosed' or 'substantially enclosed' please contact your local council.

Click here to locate your local council (new window)

Smokefree vehicles

The new law also requires vehicles to be smokefree at all times if they are used:

  • to transport members of the public or
  • in the course of paid or voluntary work by more than one person - regardless of whether they are in the vehicle at the same time.

Vehicles that are used primarily for private purposes are not be required to be smokefree.

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What signage do I have to display?

The new law requires no-smoking signs to be displayed in all smokefree premises and vehicles. Signs help to make it clear which premises and vehicles are smokefree and demonstrate that you are taking the necessary steps to meet the requirements of the new law.

Required signage for smokefree premises

No-smoking signs must be displayed in a prominent position at every entrance to smokefree premises. These must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • be a minimum of A5 in area (210mm x 148mm)
  • display the international no-smoking symbol, which consists solely of a graphic representation of a single burning cigarette enclosed in a red circle of at least 70mm in diameter with a red bar across it
  • carry the following words in characters that can be easily read: 'No smoking. It is against the law to smoke in these premises'

A smaller sign consisting of the international no-smoking symbol at least 70mm in diameter may instead be displayed at entrances to smokefree premises that are:

  • only used by members of staff, providing the premises displays at least one A5 area sign, or
  • located within larger smokefree premises, such as a shop within an indoor shopping centre.

Required signage for smokefree vehicles

Smokefree vehicles must display a no-smoking sign in each compartment of the vehicle in which people can be carried. This must show the international no-smoking symbol at least 70mm in diameter.

Signs were included in the guidance mailing to businesses in April. Additional signs can be downloaded and printed from this website. Alternatively, you are welcome to design and print your own no-smoking signs as long as they meet the minimum requirements. You are also free to personalise your signs by changing the words 'these premises' to refer to the name or type of premises - such as 'this gym', 'this salon' or 'this restaurant'.

Download signage

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How is the law being enforced?

Local councils are responsible for enforcing the new law in England. They have worked closely with businesses to help ensure that everyone understands how to comply with the new law.

In other countries, such as Ireland, Scotland and New Zealand, levels of compliance are high, and the laws quickly became self-enforcing. However, if you manage or are in charge of any premises or vehicles that the new law applies to, you have a legal responsibility to ensure they are smokefree and remain so. Therefore, you need to be prepared to take action if someone does smoke in a smokefree place.

We have developed a flowchart setting out suggested steps to take:

How to deal with smoking in a smokefree place (PDF, 48KB)

If someone is smoking in a smokefree place or vehicle, you should alert the manager or the person in charge of the premises or vehicle in the first instance.

Alternatively you can contact the relevant local council or phone the Smokefree Compliance Line on 0800 587 166 7 to make a report. This information will be passed to the relevant local authority to follow up as appropriate.

Click here to locate your local council (new window)

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What are the penalties and fines for breaking the smokefree law?

If you don't comply with the smokefree law, you will be committing a criminal offence. The fixed penalty notices and maximum fine for each offence are:

  • Smoking in smokefree premises or work vehicles: a fixed penalty notice of £50 (reduced to £30 if paid in 15 days) imposed on the person smoking. Or a maximum fine of £200 if prosecuted and convicted by a court.
  • Failure to display no-smoking signs: a fixed penalty notice of £200 (reduced to £150 if paid in 15 days) imposed on whoever manages or occupies the smokefree premises or vehicle. Or a maximum fine of £1000 if prosecuted and convicted by a court.
  • Failing to prevent smoking in a smokefree place: a maximum fine of £2500 imposed on whoever manages or controls the smokefree premises or vehicle if prosecuted and convicted by a court. There is no fixed penalty notice for this offence.
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How do I develop a smokefree policy?

To ensure employees are aware of smokefree legislation and changes to your workplace you may wish to consider developing a written smokefree policy for your workplace.

Effective smokefree policies:

  • are concise and simple to understand;
  • explain the reasons for the policy;
  • acknowledge the right of employees to work in a smokefree environment;
  • make reference to the relevant smokefree legislation;
  • state that the policy applies to workers at all levels as well as to visitors and customers;
  • identify where smoking is/is not permitted;
  • are concise and simple to understand;
  • identify the members of management and staff who have responsibility for the implementation of the policy;
  • state how the organisation will deal with non-compliance;
  • provide information on how to obtain help to quit smoking;
  • include a consultation with members of staff;
  • are communicated to all members of staff (including new employees before they start work).

You will need to decide how to deal with non-compliance with your smokefree policy and how the policy fits within your existing health and safety as well as discipline policies.

Download a sample smokefree policy here (PDF, 408KB)

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What about a smoking shelter?

There is no requirement to provide smoking shelters. It is common for health-focused employers not to spend money creating places for smokers to congregate. If you do have an outside smoking shelter or area, you will need to be sure that it is not 'enclosed' or 'substantially enclosed' as defined by the new law.

Please note, the Department of Health and Smokefree England cannot provide advice on the design or construction of smoking shelters. If you do decide to build a shelter, we suggest you discuss any plans you may have with your local council, as there may be a range of issues you need to consider. These might include planning permission, licensing, building control, noise and litter.

Click here to locate your local council (new window)

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How can I support my staff and customers who wish to stop smoking?

Around 70% of smokers say they want to stop smoking, and the smokefree law may provide extra motivation to do so. If you'd like to help your staff and customers to stop smoking, the NHS offers excellent free support that really works. Research shows you are up to four times more likely to succeed if you use NHS support and stop smoking medicines such as patches or gum to manage your cravings. Employers can speak to their local NHS Stop Smoking Services about support for their employees during or outside working hours.

For more details and advice on stopping smoking:

call the NHS Smoking Helpline on 0800 169 0 169 or

Visit www.gosmokefree.nhs.uk (new window)

New guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) will advise employers on how to help employees stop smoking.

Visit nice.org.uk (new window) for more information on how to help employees stop smoking.

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Other resources on this website


Read the smokefree regulations
View the latest compliance data and other research
Find answers to frequently asked questions

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© SmokefreeEngland.co.uk 2012