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Smokefree England


Frequently Asked Questions

Why Smokefree?

Non-smokers should be protected from involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke, because it affects their health. Vulnerable groups should be particularly protected from tobacco smoke pollution such as children, pregnant women and people with diseases like asthma and heart disease which are made worse by exposure to tobacco smoke.

Numerous public surveys show that almost all non-smokers and the vast majority of smokers fully support these principles. Smokers should be free to smoke, providing they don't pollute the air that non-smokers breathe. This means that enclosed public buildings and workplaces should be smoke free.

Sometimes smokers are unaware of how their smoking affects others. Sticking to the Smoker's guidelines will ensure that you don't affect the health of non-smokers.

When will smokefree law come into effect?

The smokefree law came into effect on 06:00 on Sunday 1 July 2007.

Which workplaces will be covered by the legislation?

All premises that are wholly or substantially enclosed and used as a place of work by more than one person will be covered by the legislation.

Some residential premises such as blocks of flats with communal areas may also be covered by the legislation.

Are there any exemptions?

Exemptions are proposed in certain establishments where people live and which are also workplaces, e.g. prison cells, hospices and long stay residential homes.

However this does not mean that smoking is allowed throughout the premises. Instead, in premises with exemptions, employers will have to identify 'designated smoking rooms' which meet the following specifications: 

  • Is completely enclosed, except for windows/doors, on all sides by solid floor to ceiling and walls 
  • The ventilation system does not ventilate into any other smoke-free part of the premises 
  • If a door opens onto smokefree premises, it can be closed by mechanical means to prevent smoke drift 
  • Is clearly marked as a room in which smoking is permitted 
  • It is up to the management of individual buildings to decide if visitors will be allowed to access smoking rooms. The exemption exists for residents only and therefore should not be used by staff. There is no obligation for employers of exempt places to have 'smoking rooms' if they do not wish to do so.

Will there be a requirement for statutory signs in smokefree areas?

Yes, all premises and vehicles that are required to be smokefree will have to display signs that meet minimum requirements of size and design.

The no-smoking signs will have to be prominently visible to all employees, customers and visitors, from the outside, at each public entrance to the premises. This includes all businesses no matter how small, mobile or static.

Staff-only entrances need only display the international no smoking symbol. In places such as offices, units and shops within smoke free buildings, the sign need only display the statutory no smoking symbol.

What size does the sign need to be and what should it say?

The no-smoking sign will have to be at least A5 in size, display the international no smoking symbol (a burning cigarette in red circle at least 70 mm in diameter, with a red bar across it, on a white background) and carry the words

"No Smoking. It is against the law to smoke in these premises".

Where can I get suitable signs?

The Department of Health will make signs, which meet the requirements of the Smokefree regulations, freely available to order after Easter.

Signs will also be included with the guidelines that will also be made available.

Also, signage will be sold through commercial providers.

For updated information, visit NHS Smoke Free Link to External Website.

Will employers be required to provide external smoking areas?

There is no legal requirement for employers to provide designated external smoking areas, e.g. smoking shelters. However, any shelters that are erected must comply with the planning regulations and the smokefree regulations.

Will there be clear guidance on the provision of smoking shelters?

As long as smoking shelters are not enclosed or substantially enclosed, they should be lawful, so long as they comply with planning regulations. A definition of "enclosed" and "substantially enclosed" is available in the regulations and also in guidance which has been given to businesses.

What will I do if a customer smokes on my premises?

If a customer or member of staff smokes on your premises it is your responsibility to ask them to stop.

Breaking the law could result in a fine.

The person who is smoking will also be liable to a fine.

What help is available to make my business smokefree?

The Government has supplied information and resources to help businesses prepare to become smokefree.

You can register now to receive this and the info will be sent by post as soon as it is available.

To register, contact Smokefree England . Tel: 0800 169 1697, 8am - 6am, Monday to Friday, or visit NHS Smoke Free Link to External Website.

If you wish to make a complaint about people smoking within an enclosed place or workplace, then you should contact the National Compliance Line on 0800 587 1667.