This checklist highlights what managers, owners and employers within a smoke free premises or who own a smoke free vehicle must do:
- Ensure that appropriate no smoking signage is displayed as per the Smoke Free legislation
- Remove indoor smoking areas previously in use
- Managers / owners must take all reasonable and practical steps to ensure that the legislation is followed in their premises and vehicles
- Managers / owners must ensure that all staff, both existing and new starters are made aware of the smoke free policy
While the following are not mandatory it might be worthwhile considering these points as they will foster a positive smoke free and healthier environment:
- Work with staff to produce a smoke free policy
- Put on internal training as well as offering posters / memos (etc) to staff to ensure that they understand the legislation and their own responsibilities as part of it
- Work with and offer staff and customers support, advice and guidance to help them quit smoking altogether.
The Everything You Need government guide offers business owners and employers everything they need information-wise and additional guidance documents may be used to actively ensure a smoke free workplace is in place.
For more guidance and to download free relevant documents visit the resource page here.
What Defines a Smoke Free Place
Under the Smoke Free legislation all public enclosed or substantially closed areas / premises and workplaces alongside work vehicles fall into the no smoking allowed category. Indoor smoking areas or break rooms which allow smoking are no longer allowed and smokers have to go outside.
This legislation applies to any enclosed or substantially enclosed structure, whether it is a permanently placed building or a more temporary structure such as a tent, gazebo, marquee etc.
See the Quick Guide for a full explanation of what an enclosed and a substantially enclosed structure is / how these areas are worked out.
Smoke Free Vehicles
In order to meet the Smoke Free law regarding vehicles that are used for a work purpose (including voluntary work and transportation) employers must ensure such vehicles display adequate no smoking signage.
Privately owned and used vehicles (not used for work purposes) do not have to be smoke free.
What is The Appropriate No Smoking Signage?
Buildings / Structures
In order to meet the requirements of the Smoke Free legislation business owners / managers must ensure that approved signage is in place which clearly shows others that the area has been designated a no smoking one.
To meet the minimum requirements of the law signage must:
- Be at least A5 sized in area (21cm x 14.8cm)
- Carry the internationally recognisable no smoking symbol (a lit / burning cigarette within a red circle with a bar or line through it to show restriction).
- The symbol must measure a minimum of 7cm / 70mm in diameter.
- Must sport the wording: “No smoking, it is against the law to smoke in these premises”
A smaller sign which still sports the international no smoking sign with a 70mm diameter size print out may be used within premises which are part of a larger enterprise which would have full sized signage at its entrance. An example of this might be a shopping centre. This smaller sign may also be used in areas where staff only is permitted and which has a larger A5 sized at the entrance.
The Required Signage for Vehicles Classed as Smoke Free
In order to meet the legal requirements of the Smoke Free legislation all vehicles, including each separate compartment (in the case of a train or tram) must sport the internationally recognised no smoking symbol. This symbol must be at least 70mm in diameter.
Smoke Free Vehicles: Require Signage Guidance
Any and all vehicles classed as smoke free must display a no smoking sign. These signs must be clearly visible in all compartments that carry people. The signs must also adhere to the guidance regarding sizes and show the international no smoking sign symbol inside a red circle (with a bar crossing through the symbol). This circle must measure at least 70mm in diameter to meet the requirements.
Who is Responsible for Enforcing the Smoke Free Law
It is primarily the responsibility of the local councils to enforce the legislation in their own areas. The police will not get involved unless there is threatening or inappropriate / aggressive behaviour involved.
While the council are the government body enforcing the smoke free law the responsibility for maintaining a smoke free area in those places designated by law falls on the individual companies, managers and owners of any premises.
Individual smokers also have a responsibility for their own conduct regarding these regulations.
Thankfully the compliance levels have to date been high, as they have in other areas such as Ireland and New Zealand who have rolled out the legislation also. People tend to self-manage their smoking behaviour and adhere to the local and national regulations without the need for penalties and further enforcement.
How is The Law Being Enforced
As a manager it is important to have in place a plan to tackle no compliance and to ensure that employees know and understand what this plan is and what the consequences are of not adhering to the law. Putting together a flow chart such as the example below would be the most effective way to inform and enforce the smoke free law in any individual workplace.
How to deal with smoking in a smokefree place (PDF, 48KB)
Where anyone has a concern regarding the Smoke Free legislation not being adhered to they may report this to the manager / owner or premises staff. If this is not possible for whatever reason or this action does not stop the act of non-compliance it is possible to report non-compliance to the Smoke Free Compliance Phone Line on 0800 587 1667 (free phone). All complaints made to the Compliance Line are recorded and passed onto the relevant local council to follow up on.
Smoke Free Law NonCompliance Penalties and Fines
When individuals, owners, businesses and employers choose not to, or fail to meet the criteria set out in the Smoke Free law they are effectively breaking the law which is of course a criminal offence. These offences carry with them their own fixed penalty notices and fines.
- If you smoke in a Smoke Free designated vehicle or workplace a fixed penalty notice of £50 will be issued. This may be reduced to £30 if the fine is paid within 15 days. If referred to court for prosecution the maximum fine that may be handed down is £200.
- Where no appropriate signage has been displayed in a designated no-smoking area / vehicle a fixed penalty notice of £200 will be issued. This may be reduced to £150 if paid within 15 days. If referred to court for prosecution a maximum fine of £1000 may be handed down.
- Where employers / managers fail to provide and maintain a smoke free public or work place there is a maximum fine of £2500. There is no fixed penalty fine in this instance and the matter will be referred to court for prosecution.
Developing a Smoke Free Policy
A smoke free policy alerts staff and visitors to the smoke free legislation, their own responsibilities and any penalties or consequences that will result from not complying with the regulations in place.
When putting together a smoke free policy for your workplace ensure that the policy:
- Is written in plain, clear and easy to understand language
- Is simple and to the point
- Makes it clear that employers respect the right of employees to work in a smoke free environment
- Includes the relevant information as found in the Smoke Free law
- Identifies where smokers may smoke and may not smoke clearly
- Confirms that the policy and the law includes everyone from new starters and visitors to a site, to the company managing director
- Has been put together after communicating with the staff regarding the issue to ensure everyone has the opportunity to consult
- Is shared with visitors, new staff (perhaps as part of their first day induction documentation) and of course existing staff
- That is also makes clear who is responsible for the policy and the enforcement of the regulations
- Clearly outlines the steps that will be taken in the event of con-compliance.
The policy must work hand in hand with existing health and safety policy and alongside disciplinary policies and procedures.
A sample smoke free policy which may be used as a guideline for putting your own together may be downloaded here (PDF file).
Are Smoking Shelters Legal?
An employer has no legal obligation to provide a smoking shelter for their employees. Many won’t now that the workplace has become smoke free as a great number of employers are additionally offering their employees help and advice to support them with quitting smoking altogether.
If there is a smoking shelter already in place or an employer does decide to build one they must ensure that the structure adheres to Smoke Free legislation in that the shelter must not be enclosed or substantially enclosed. Any buildings or structures erected must be passed by the local council who will also give guidance on their suitability under the law.
How Can Employers Support Customers and Smokers Who Wish to Give Up Smoking
By adhering to the Smoke Free law and ensuring that the workplace, including all work vehicles are and remain smoke free an employer is already helping their employees and visitors to quit.
As many as 70% of surveyed smokers claim they wish to quit yet need extra support. These bans are a step in the right direction as they take away the opportunities for smoking as well as the temptations. Employers may offer additional support by offering advice and guidance in the form of posters and leaflets and by signposting individuals towards NHS Stop Smoking Clinics and groups as well as other supportive organisations.
To get in touch with the NHS Smoking Helpline for advice on quitting, local services and guidance on how to help others quit call 0800 1690169 or visit http://www.gosmokefree.nhs.uk
Further guidance on helping others quit smoking may be found via NICE (The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) at nice.org.uk..html