A quick guide to the smokefree law

The Smoke Free Law: A Quick Guide

After research confirmed the harmful effects to health of smoking and second hand smoke (passive smoking) the Smoke Free law was introduced to protect individuals in public places and in the work place.

The main points of the legislation are as follows:

  • The legislation, introduced on the 1st July 2007, now makes it illegal to smoke in all public enclosed or substantially enclosed area and workplaces.
  • The ban includes smoking on vehicles which serve the public and / or are used for work purposes.
  • Appropriate no smoking signs must be clearly placed in all smoke free premises and vehicles.
  • Under the legislation in place work smoking rooms and areas are no longer permitted. All smokers must take their smoke breaks outside.
  • The owners / managers of any premises have to take reasonable steps to ensure that all staff and/or visitors are aware of the ban and to uphold the ban.
  • Smokers looking for an appropriate place to smoke may check the no smoking signs in and around premises to easily see which areas are restricted or ask a staff member.

When The Smoke Free Law is Broken

Your local council as opposed to the police are in charge of enforcing the Smoke Free law. Don’t be complacent however as if you are found to be ignoring legislation you will be breaking the law.

Fixed penalties and the maximum fine amounts are as follows:

  • Smoking at Work or in a Vehicle Classed as a No Smoking Area- fixed penalty £50, reduced to £30 if paid within fifteen days of issue. If prosecuted by court the maximum fine limit is £200.
  • Not Adhering to Signage Regulations (owners / managers)- fixed penalty £200, reduced to £150 if paid within fifteen days from issue. Court prosecuted cases hold a maximum fine level of £1000.
  • Not Maintaining a Smoke Free Place – (owners / managers)- a maximum penalty of £2500 to the person who manages / controls the area which does not comply with the Smoke Free legislation. A fixed penalty notice is not appropriate in this situation.
  • If concerned about someone smoking in a smoke free area contact / inform the staff / owner as soon as possible or call the Smoke Free Compliance Line (number 0800 587 1667). This report may be made anonymously if wished although it may be helpful to be able to call those who complain to clarify details where needed. All complaints / concerns are passed on to the relevant council for follow up.

How an Area is Classed as Enclosed or Substantially Enclosed

All areas open to the public including workplaces are considered smoke free zones where they are enclosed or substantially enclosed.

Enclosed: This is an area with permanent walls and doors without any gaps. Windows and doors aren’t classed as gaps. An enclosed structure may be permanent i.e. a building or even a marquee (temporary).

Substantially Enclosed:

This would be a structure (with a roof/ceiling) with an opening in the walls where the opening would make up less than half of the area of the total wall space. Again doors and windows are not classed as gaps.

If in any doubt about whether their building or structure is enclosed, substantially enclosed or open enough to allow smoking in the wisest course of action for businesses would be to contact the local council for advice and clarification.