About the law
What is the reason for the ban on smoking in enclosed public places?
The law aims to protect workers and the general public from the harmful effects of passive smoking. It is estimated that exposure to second-hand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer in adult non-smokers by 24 per cent and heart disease in adult non-smokers by 25 per cent.
Passive smoking also causes respiratory disease and asthma in non-smoking adults and children. The UK Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health concluded in 2004 that second-hand smoke is a serious public health risk.
What is meant by "wholly enclosed" and "substantially enclosed"?
This relates to an area with a ceiling or roof that - except for doors, windows and passageways - is either wholly enclosed (whether permanently or temporarily); or is enclosed apart from an opening which is less than half the area of its walls. A legal definition is set out in the regulations.
I have a very small business with only a couple of employees who smoke. Does the smoke-free law still apply to me?
Yes, if your business is wholly or substantially enclosed.
As an employer, or person in control of premises, what do I have to do to comply with the law?
Employers, managers and those in control of no-smoking premises need to display smoke-free signage and to take reasonable steps to ensure that staff, customers, members and visitors do not smoke in their premises. We recommend the following minimum action:
- display of no-smoking notices and signage (as specified in the regulations and guidance) so that they are clearly visible to all employees, customers and visitors while they are in the premises;
- developing and implementing a smoke-free policy;
- removing all ashtrays from premises;
- informing anyone smoking that he/she is committing an offence;
- requesting that they extinguish their smoking material immediately or leave;
- and refusing service if a customer or member continues to smoke.
How is the law enforced?
Authorised officers of the local authority have powers to enter all smoke-free premises in order to establish that the smoke-free legislation is being enacted in accordance with the law. They are also able to give out fixed penalty notices to people whom they believe are committing, or have committed, an offence under the legislation.
What specific offences are created by the legislation?
The legislation creates three specific offences:
- Failing to display no-smoking signs in premises covered by the law;
- Smoking in a smoke-free place;
- Failing to prevent smoking in a smoke-free place.
In addition, it is an offence to intentionally obstruct an officer authorised by the local authority to enforce the smoke-free legislation or to fail to assist the officer in the exercise of his/her functions without reasonable cause.
What are the penalties for those who break the law?
- Individuals may be fined a fixed penalty of £50 for smoking in no-smoking premises. For a summary conviction, the maximum fine will be up to £200.
- The manager or person in control of any no-smoking premises could be fined a fixed penalty of £200 for failing to display warning notices in no-smoking premises. For a summary conviction, the maximum fine will be up to £1,000.
- The manager or person in control of any no-smoking premises could be fined up to £2,500 for allowing others to smoke in no smoking premises.
- The offence of obstruction of an officer authorised by the local authority to enforce the legislation carries a maximum fine of £1,000.
Are there any exemptions to the law?
Only a few exemptions are provided, to cover workplaces which are also a person's place of residence. These include:
- designated rooms in adult residential care homes;
- designated rooms in residential mental health treatment settings;
- and designated hotel bedrooms