Smoke Free England: When Did the Bans Come into Play

From the 1st July 2007 all enclosed and substantially enclosed work places (including vehicles) and public places became no smoking zones under the Smoke Free law. Anyone who smokes in these areas, for example in a pub, café or on public transport are indeed breaking the law. Breaking this law is a criminal act and penalties are in place for offenders.

To ensure that the smoke free areas are clearly defined appropriate signage must be displayed, using the internationally recognised no smoking sign.

Why Was the Smoke Free England Law Introduced

A wealth of scientific data and research has been undertaken over the years and experts now state definitively that tobacco smoke and second hand smoke is harmful, containing as many as four thousand chemicals (some considered highly toxic) and being responsible for a number of serious health issues.

Scientists confirm that there is no safe level of exposure to second hand smoke and so to protect non-smokers and smokers alike the Smoke Free law was introduced so that everyone may enjoy a healthier smoke free workplace and that their travel, social and leisure time may be similarly protected from exposure.

This leaflet on how smoke may affect you offers more information on the risks associated with exposure to tobacco smoke. Click here to read more.

Who is Enforcing the Smoke Free Law

Primarily it is the responsibility of the local councils to enforce the Smoke Free legislation and regulations in their area. To do this they have been granted additional powers to issue fixed penalty notices for offences and may still refer individuals, businesses and employers to court for prosecution, dependant on the individual circumstances of each case.

The UK, in the same way as those other nations who have adopted a smoke free way of living (such as New Zealand and Ireland) have so far managed their smoking habits independently without the need for too many penalties or prosecutions. Ensuring that all individuals know and understand the law, their responsibilities and the potential consequences of non-compliance has been key to the UK’s success in this area.

Anyone who is concerned that smoking is still taking place in a restricted area should report this to staff, the manager or owner of the establishment / workplace in question. Similarly it is possible to contact the Smoke Free Compliance Line to report breaches. These breaches are passed daily to the councils involved in order for them to follow this up as appropriate. The number for the Non Compliance Line is 0800 (free phone) 587 166 7.

Anyone found to have broken the Smoke Free law face fines starting from £50 for smoking in a restricted place (£30 if paid within 15 days), to as much as £2500 for businesses and employers failing to maintain a smoke free workplace or public area.

More information on this may be found via our Enforcement FAQ (click here to open in a new window).

How to Stop Smoking

Seven out of ten adults surveyed claimed that would like to give up smoking tobacco products. The Smoke Free law being in place has offered much to smokers wanting to quit in terms of allowing them to enjoy smoke free areas and it has encouraged employers to offer support to those customers and staff wanting to give up.

Any individual or employer may find information on how to quit for good by:

  • Texting 88088 with the message GIVEUP as well as their postcode to receive information relevant to their own local area, such as clinics and supportive groups
  • Calling the NHS Smoking Helpline on 0800 169 0 169 between 7am and 11pm Monday to Sunday to speak to an experienced advisor
  • Visit the NHS GoSmokeFree website for advice, guidance and support
  • Attend “Together”, a stop smoking support group (details from your GP service or local information hub.

More information which might be useful may be found via the below links (pages open in a new window)

An easy to understand Quick Guide to the Smoke Free law

Information including compliance statistics and various other research sources

FAQ regarding a number of Smoke Free issues