Employers’ guide to the smoking ban

A guide for employers

There’s no doubt that smoking habits in the UK workplace have changed quite dramatically over the years. Once it was common place to see an office worker hunched over his desk puffing on a cigarette, or a bus driver taking his fares with one hand and flicking ash out of the window with the other.

Not anymore. Smoking has now been stubbed out of the workplace completely.

July 1 2007 saw a complete smoking ban for all enclosed places of employment and enclosed public spaces. The office smoking room is no longer allowed, and employees must leave the building to light up.

The only exceptions to this rule are workplaces where people live such as prisons, care homes and hotels – but these exceptions are subject to certain conditions.

The ban also extends to all vehicles used by the public, all shared company vehicles (including vans/cars used by more than one person) and taxis and private hire cars.

As an employer, it is your responsibility to make sure your bulidings and vehicles are smoke free.

You must display a no-smoking sign at every entrance to smokefree premises. This sign must meet the following 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

As an employer you may wish to provide staff with an outdoor shelter for those that don’t want to stand around outside to smoke in the winter months, however, you are under no legal obligation to do this. If you do have an outside smoking shelter, it must not be ‘enclosed’ or ‘substantially enclosed’ as defined by the new law.

Local authorities will be the enforcing authority on these regulations. Penalties for ignoring the ban are as follows.

  • Smoking in a smokefree premises or vehicle carries a fixed penalty notice of £50 or a fine by a court of up to £200.
  • Failure to display no smoking signs in smokefree premises and vehicles carries a fixed penalty notice of £200 or a fine by a court of up to £1000.
  • Failing to prevent smoking in a smokefree premises or vehicle carries a fine by a court of up to £2500.


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