Smoking In and around business premises: what is allowed and what is not?

Peninsula Team

June 10 2011

Although the Smoke-free Premises Regulations have been in force since July 2007, we continue to receive questions about the requirements and whether provision can or should be made for employees who smoke.

The Regulations simply state that it is against the law to smoke in virtually all 'enclosed' and 'substantially enclosed' workplaces and public places; these include public transport and work vehicles used by more than one person. Enforced by local Councils, the regulations make managers of smoke-free premises and vehicles legally responsible for preventing people from smoking in those places. To support the ban, no-smoking signs must be displayed in all smoke-free premises and vehicles. Even though the ban is well known and has been in force for 4 years these signs are still required and enforcing officers will expect to see them in place.

For employers the regulations mean that smoking must not be allowed anywhere within a workplace building. It means that staff smoking rooms and indoor smoking areas are no longer allowed. Anyone who wants to smoke has to go outside.

Although there is no requirement to provide a smoking shelter some employers choose to do so. It tends to stop people congregating and smoking in doorways and prevents smoke from blowing back into the building. Should you choose to provide a shelter remember that an enclosed shelter is not allowed. It must be open on 2 sides or the equivalent of half of the length of all the walls. You will also need to consider other issues such as planning, licensing, building control, noise and litter – if you are unsure of anything your local Council will be able to advise.

Unlike some other countries with a smoking ban our regulations do not yet prohibit smoking within a specific distance of a doorway or an open window.  Many employers have their own rules on this matter which take account of their particular premises and situations. If the door opens onto a public footpath or road there is little that can be done without the agreement of the workforce. However if the workers are on private property further restrictions could be imposed on or agreed with them. 

At Peninsula we do not permit our staff to smoke anywhere on our property other than in the purpose built smoking shelter that we have provided at the rear of our building, near to our car park entrance. We know of clients who have made similar provision while others have agreed with their workforce that smoking with 2 or 3 metres of windows or doorways is not permissible. 

For more information, or assistance in dealing with smoking in the workplace, contact the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.

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