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Smoking Gun? Workplace Smoking Ban in the UK

Jun.20.2007

Smoking in enclosed or substantially enclosed public places and work places in England will be prohibited from 6 am on 1 July 2007 under the Health Act 2006. This is not a specific issue to bars and restaurants. Employers that ignore this legislation could face fines or possible criminal charges.

Smoking is banned in enclosed spaces, defined as a space which has a ceiling or roof and which, except for doors, windows and passageways is wholly enclosed (either temporarily or permanently).

Smoking is also banned in substantially enclosed spaces which are premises with a ceiling or roof and where there is an opening or openings in the wall which is less than half their perimeter. This includes temporary buildings such as tents and marquees.

Establishments covered by the ban include offices, churches, factories, shops, pubs, bar, restaurants, private members clubs and also public transport and work vehicles used by more than one employee, regardless of whether they are in the vehicle at the same time.

In respect of homeworkers, if more than one person uses any part of a private dwelling as a place of work then it must also be smoke free. Vehicles used primarily for private purposes are excluded from the ban, but if a vehicle is used by any other passenger or driver for work, then smoking will be prohibited and the driver of the vehicle has a responsibility to stop anyone from smoking within the vehicle.

Employers that currently permit employees to smoke at work will need to ensure that their working environments are smoke free from 1 July 2007 including the eradication of designated smoking rooms if they are ‘enclosed or substantially enclosed’.

Employers must also display a non-smoking sign in a prominent position in the entrance to all smoke free premises and vehicles, signs must be of a prescribed size and display the international no smoking symbol and state “no smoking. It is against the law to smoke in these premises”. An individual found guilty of smoking in smoke free premises or a smoke free vehicle can be liable to a fixed penalty of £50 or a fine of up to £200. An employer that fails to display no smoking signs could be liable to a fixed penalty of up to £200 or a fine not exceeding £1000. Failing to prevent smoking in smoke free premises or smoke free vehicle carries a fine of up to £2500.

With two weeks to go before the ban comes into force, it is therefore time to consider implementing a smoke-free policy, putting up the appropriate signage, and (if the government guidance is to be adopted) supporting your staff through tobacco withdrawal!

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