How does the UK smoking ban affect employers?

As all employers should be aware by now, the UK is has become smoke free in almost all enclosed or substantially enclosed public places and workplaces. This ban on smoking in such places took effect from July 2007 in England, April 2007 in Wales, March 2007 in Scotland and April 2007 in Ireland.

As an employer, how does this affect me?

This ban has an impact on all employers throughout the UK. Appropriate no smoking signage must be displayed in all smoke free workplaces and vehicles and more importantly managers of such workplaces will have legal responsibilities to prevent people from smoking.

What are the consequences of breaking the smoke free law?

Failure to comply with the smoke free law is deemed a criminal offence and can carry a fixed penalty notice and/or fine. Failure to display no smoking signs carries a fixed penalty notice of £200 or maximum fine of £1,000 if prosecuted and convicted by court. Failure to prevent smoking in a smoke free workplace carries a maximum fine of £2,500. Both of these penalties are directed at whoever manages or controls the smoke free workplace.

What can an employer do to help prevent such consequences?

One extremely affective deterrent and form of active prevention is the installation of the cigarette smoke detectors. There are two versions available one of which includes a remote indicator. The detector can be installed in offices, walkways and toilets and its design incorporates a no smoking sign. Used in conjunction with the remote indicator, visual signal that cigarette smoke has been detected can be shown in another room.

As an employer, or person in control of premises, what will I have to do to comply with the law?

Employers, managers and those in control of no-smoking premises will need to display no-smoking notices and to take reasonable steps to ensure that staff, customers, members and visitors are aware of the new law and that they do not smoke in their premises. We recommend the following minimum action:

  • display no-smoking notices and signage 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 a service if a customer or member continues to smoke.

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