Smoke-free Legislation

On 1 July 2007, England implemented the Health Act 2006 which made virtually all indoor public places and work places, including work vehicles smoke-free.

The implications of the Act are wide-ranging and locally every business in Eden was affected by it.

Exemptions are limited and relate primarily to private dwellings, designated bedrooms in hotels and specified areas in residential accommodation, such as prisons and care homes.

The legislation is designed to protect workers and members of the public from the serious health risks of second hand smoke. As a result, people working in bars, restaurants, pubs and other workplaces will enjoy breathing fresher and cleaner air.

Smoking is permitted in shelters and outdoor areas that are not enclosed or substantially enclosed.

How will smoke-free legislation affect premises?

Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed or 'substantially enclosed' public places and workplaces. It is an offence to:

  • Smoke in smoke-free premises
  • Permit others to smoke in smoke-free premises
  • Fail to display warning notices in smoke-free premises

Premises are considered to be 'substantially enclosed' if they have a ceiling or roof, and where openings in the walls are less than half of 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.

Which premises are affected by the smoke-free legislation?

Smoke-free legislation affects all premises which:

  • The public has access to: for example pubs, clubs, restaurants, cafes and so on
  • Are being used wholly or mainly as a place of work
  • Are being used wholly or mainly for providing education, heath or care services

'Work' also covers voluntary work, so if a village hall holds an event staffed by volunteers, it must be smoke-free. If the public attended it would be both a workplace and a public place.

Are there any premises exempt from the smoke-free legislation?

Yes. Premises which are used as a full time place of residence for extended periods, for example: private dwellings, and adult care homes in private residential spaces. Designated rooms in hotels, hostels and bed and breakfast accommodation are exempt since they are places where people live even though they are not private homes.

Where smoking cannot take place outside for safety or health reasons, then designated smoking rooms/areas may be allowed. Such exempted places include prisons and oil rigs.

Smoking in vehicles

All vehicles used for public transport for example buses, trains and taxis are affected by the law.

Where a vehicle is used as a workplace by more than one person, regardless of whether they are in the vehicle at the same time, it is required to be smoke-free at all times. This protects shift and other workers using the same vehicle from the hazards of second hand smoke. A worker can smoke in a company car that only they use if their employer agrees.

What about smoking in private vehicles

From 1 October 2015, all private vehicles must be smoke-free if they are enclosed, there is more than one person present and one of them is under eighteen years old. It is an offence:

  • A person of any age to smoke in a private vehicle that is carrying someone who is under eighteen.
  • A driver (including a provisional driver) not to stop someone smoking in these circumstances.

Enforcing officers (usually the Police) will use their discretion whether to issue a warning or a fixed penalty notice, or whether to refer an offence to court.

The legislation covers any private vehicle that is enclosed wholly or partly by a roof. A convertible car or coupe, with the roof completely down and stowed is not enclosed. A vehicle with an open sun roof is still enclosed and covered by the legislation. Sitting in the open doorway of an enclosed vehicle is also covered by the legislation. The rules apply to motorhomes, camper vans and caravans when they are being used as a vehicle but not when being used as living accommodation.

Private vehicles must be carrying more than one person to be smoke-free, so somebody who is seventeen and smoking alone in a vehicle would not be committing an offence.

What are the penalties for smoking in a smoke-free place?

  • Smoking in a smoke-free place can lead to a fixed penalty of £50 (reduced to £30 if paid in 15 days); or a maximum fine of £200 if convicted by a court.
  • Failure to prevent smoking in a smoke-free place - a fine of £2,500 (no fixed penalty option)
  • Failure to display a 'no smoking' sign in a smoke-free place, can lead to a fixed penalty of £200 (reduced to £150 if paid in 15 days) or a maximum fine of £1000 if convicted by a court.
  • Smoking in a private vehicle with someone under eighteen present can lead to a fixed penalty of £50 (reduced to £30 if paid in 15 days), or a maximum fine of £200 if convicted by a court.
  • Failure by the person in control (driver) of a private smoke-free vehicle to stop a person from smoking can lead to a fixed penalty of £50 (reduced to £30 if paid in 15 days), or a maximum fine of £2500 if convicted by a court.

Enforcement of smoke-free legislation

Our enforcement staff work closely with businesses to raise awareness of the implications of the legislation. This approach is complemented by inspections which are either proactive for example, to confirm compliance; or reactive in response to complaints.

When considering enforcement action, officers will have regard to the Environmental Services enforcement policy (PDF:280Kb / 22pages)

Prosecution and the use of fixed penalty notices is not normally the first course of action, but will be used when the seriousness of the situation warrants such action.

Electronic cigarettes

There is currently no national legislation in place which restricts the use of electronic cigarettes in premises or vehicles. It is a matter for the owner, manager or person in control to decide whether the use of electronic cigarettes is to be permitted in their premises or in their vehicles. Likewise, the use of electronic cigarettes in the workplace is up to the individual employer.

ASH (Action on smoking and health) has produced information to help you decide whether you will permit or prohibit electronic cigarette use on your premises.

See 'will you permit or prohibit e-cigarette use on your premises?' on the ash website.

Shisha smoking

The law classes shisha smoking the same as cigarette smoking.

Is there anything employers and occupiers of premises should do?

Employers, managers and those in charge of smoke-free premises and vehicles will need to:

  • Display no smoking signs in smoke-free premises and vehicles, signs can be obtained from stationery retailers
  • Take reasonable steps to ensure that staff, customers and visitors are aware that premises and vehicles are legally required to be smoke-free
  • Ensure no one smokes in a smoke free premises or vehicle
  • Ensure staff understand the smoke-free law and their responsibilities

You may also want to implement the following supportive measures:

  • Develop a smoke-free policy in consultation with staff
  • Provide staff and customers with support to quit smoking

Help available to stop smoking

Visit quit smoking on the NHS website for lots of information to help you stop smoking.

Last updated: Wednesday, 24 April, 2024.