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No smoking sign

Smoke freedom frequently asked questions

Who has new legal duties and what are they?

The new smoke free law sets out legal duties for two groups of people:

  1. Owners, occupiers, people in control and managers of a smoke free premises or vehicle must;
    Make sure that they display the required no-smoking signs at every entrance to the smokefree premises and for work vehicles, in each enclosed compartment that can accommodate people.
    Take reasonable action to stop people from smoking inside;
  2. All staff, customers and visitors must not smoke inside work places or work vehicles or in enclosed or substantially enclosed premises that are used by the general public.

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Who is responsible for this when the owner or manager is not there?

Section 8 of the Health Act 2006 places a legal duty on 'any person who controls or is concerned in the management of a smoke free premises to cause a person there to stop smoking'. This means legal duty would lie with whoever is in charge of the premises at the time. As a manager you should ensure that a properly trained person is always on-site who is aware of the law and their own legal liabilities.

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What can I do to stop my customers or staff from smoking inside my premises?

As a manager of a business who occupies a smoke free premises, your legal duty is to take all reasonable steps to stop people from smoking inside. You can do this in the following ways:

  • Remove ashtrays from the premises
  • Make regular management inspections of all areas of your business to check they are smoke free and that signs are in place
  • Point out the signs and ask a person to stop smoking or to go outside
  • Explain that you would be committing an offence if you continue to allow them to smoke and that they are directly breaking the law themselves
  • Do not serve a person you suspect of smoking and ask them to leave
  • If the person refuses, then carry out your usual procedure for dealing with anti-social or illegal behavior in your premises
  • Keep an "incident book" which records the incident and action that you have taken
  • Develop and implement a smokefree policy that meets legal requirements and states who has responsibility for taking action.

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Do I have to provide a shelter outside or somewhere for my employees to go for a cigarette?

No. There is no requirement to provide smoking shelters. It is common for health-focused employers not to spend money creating places for smokers to congregate. If you do have an outside smoking shelter or area, you will need to be sure that it is not 'enclosed' or 'substantially enclosed' as defined by the new law.

If you do decide to build a shelter, we suggest you discuss any plans you may have with us, as there may be a range of issues you need to consider. These might include planning permission, licensing, building control, noise and litter.

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If I do want to provide an outside area for my customers or staff how do I go about this?

The area must not be classed as inside ie 'enclosed or substantially enclosed' as defined in the Smoke-free (Premises and Enforcement Regulations) 2006. The other issues you may need to deal with are covered in our ABC guide to using the outdoor areas of your business.

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Doesn't my responsibility end when people leave the boundary of my premises?

You will be responsible for ensuring people do not smoke in any enclosed or substantially enclosed area of your premises, which includes work vehicles used by more than one person. You will also be responsible for ensuring adequate signage is displayed in your premises and any work vehicles and this responsibility remains regardless of where the vehicle is at the time. If you provide an outside area for your employees or customers, such as a smoking shelter, you will need to ensure that the structure and its users comply with the law. It is also important to consider any noise disturbance or litter that might be caused by people smoking outside.

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Are staff allowed to smoke in work places and public places when they are closed?

No. The smokefree law requires workplaces and public places to be smoke free at all times, even when they are closed to the public.

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My organisation provides care to people in their own homes, does this mean that their home must be smokefree and subject to no smoking signage?

Private dwellings are on the whole exempt from the smokefree law (unless they are also used as a workplace for more than one person who does not live there, or if people do who not live there come to give or receive goods or services).

There is no restriction on people smoking in any part of their private dwellings that are used for work by others, if the work is undertaken solely to:

  • provide personal care for someone living in the dwelling
  • assist with domestic work of the household in the dwelling
  • maintain the dwelling
  • install, maintain or remove any service provided to the dwelling for the benefit of people living there.

Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, employers will continue to have duties of care for the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees, and you should try to protect staff from exposure to secondhand smoke. Any situation that may expose people to second hand tobacco should be controlled by a smoking policy and procedures that implement it. The householder and person providing a service should come to an agreement about where and when smoking can take place.

The TUC has produced guidance to assist employees who work in private dwellings to minimise exposure to secondhand smoke.

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I use my car for work, does it have to be smoke free and display signs?

If a vehicle that is enclosed by a roof is used primarily for work purposes by more than 1 person (whether or not at the same time) it must be smoke free and display a 'no-smoking' symbol. This includes: cars, lorries, minibuses or any other vehicle used for work by more than one person. This protects shift and other workers who use the same vehicle from the health risks associated with secondhand smoke.

Anyone with management responsibility for the vehicle will be required to ensure signs are displayed in each enclosed compartment that can accommodate people. These signs must simply display the international 'no smoking' symbol in colour, a minimum of 70mm in diameter.

Smoking will, however, be permitted in vehicles that are for the sole use of the driver and are not used as a workplace by anyone else, either as a driver or passenger.

Any vehicle that is used by a member of the public (like a taxi or private hire vehicle) must also be smokefree and display the 'No Smoking' symbol.

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Are private members of a club and the club premises exempt from the law?

No. The smokefree law applies to any public place or workplace that is deemed to be enclosed or substantially enclosed. The Health Act 2006 states that 'Premises are “open to the public” if the public or a section of the public has access to them, whether by invitation or not, and whether on payment or not” (Health Act 2006 2(7)).

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Some of my customers have said that they want to give up smoking before the new law is introduced, where can I find out how they can get help?

The Plymouth Teaching Primary Care Trust Stop Smoking Service can help to support your customers by running a quit smoking group. The service can also help you to develop and write a smokefree policy. For more information contact them on 0845 155 8080.

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Where can I find out more about the new law and how it might affect my business?

For free signs, links to the regulations, posters, information leaflets and other frequently asked questions visit the Smoke Free England website or call the business information line on 0800 1691697.

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