Smokefree workplaces

Since July 2007, virtually all enclosed public places and workplaces in England became smokefree, to protect everyone from the harmful effects of second hand smoke.

No smoking sign

The smokefree law covers virtually all enclosed public places and workplaces. These include pubs, clubs, bars, cafes, shops, offices and factories. Staff smoking rooms and indoor smoking areas are not permitted, so anyone who wants to smoke must go outside. Public transport and work vehicles used by more than one person at any time also need to be kept smokefree.

Guidance notes for Smokefree

Considering a new business?

It may be helpful to use the following questions to identify what needs to be done:

  • Will you, your staff or any of your customers smoke? If the answer is yes, where will these people go to smoke?
  • If there is to be a smoking shelter, will it comply with the law?
  • How will you respond to staff or members of the public who break the law by smoking in premises or vehicles that have to be smoke free?

What is an "enclosed" or "substantially enclosed" workplace?

Somewhere is enclosed if it has a ceiling or roof and except for any windows and doors, has walls or sides that enclose it. A substantially enclosed place is one that has a ceiling or roof, and has walls or sides that enclose more than 50% of it.

Do businesses have to provide a shelter for smokers?

Businesses don’t have to provide a shelter, but they might want to have one for their staff or customers to use. A free guidance leaflet on smoking shelters has been produced by the Council and is available on request.

What does the smoke-free legislation require businesses and employers to do?

They must: ensure that people don’t smoke in those parts of their premises or in vehicles that by law have to be smoke-free. prominently display ‘no-smoking’ signs at the entrances to their  premises and in vehicles.

Smoking in work vehicles

Smoking isn’t allowed in any work vehicle that more than one person uses, e.g. taxis, buses, vans, goods vehicles used by more than one driver, company cars used by more than one employee. A worker can smoke in a company car that only they use if their employer agrees. Since 1 October 2015, it is also be illegal to smoke in vehicles with someone under 18 present; both the driver and passenger could be fined £50.

What are the penalties?

The offences and penalties are:

  • smoking in a smokefree place or vehicle - a fixed penalty notice of £50 or a fine of up to £200
  • failing to prevent smoking in a smoke-free place or vehicle - a fine of up to £2,500

Staff in Harlow Council's Environmental Health Team will be authorised to take Enforcement Action: however, we are sure that in the vast majority of cases information and advice about the law will be enough.