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Smoking Ban To Come Into Force 1 July 2007

 

All enclosed public places and workplaces will become smoke-free from 1st July 2007.
The implementation of the smoke-free elements of the Health Act 2006 will mean that virtually all enclosed public places and workplaces will become smoke-free environments.

This will include offices, factories, shops, pubs, bars, restaurants, membership clubs, public transport and work vehicles that are used by more than one person.

The legislation will make it an offence for those who control or manage smoke-free premises to fail to stop people smoking on them. An employer will have a valid defence if it takes reasonable steps to prevent people smoking; does not know or cannot reasonably be expected to know that they are smoking; or can show other grounds why it is reasonable not to fulfil its duty.

If employers occupy or manage smoke-free premises, they will also be under a duty to ensure that compliant no-smoking signs are displayed. Again, a defence will be available for those who, for example, could not have been expected to know that signs previously in place had been removed by vandals.

Employers will need to implement appropriate procedures to ensure their employees and others who access their premises refrain from smoking. These procedures will need to be in place and communicated to the workforce and visitors alike in time for the ban taking effect.

The law will mean that indoor smoking rooms, still common in some workplaces, will no longer be allowed. Employees and others wishing to smoke will have to go outside instead. Companies may also therefore need to consider the effect of this on productivity and any procedures that should be put in place governing the number of breaks and the areas that smokers may congregate in as well as any associated new risks that may arise. West Lancashire District Council is reported to be the first local authority in England to ban its staff from taking smoking breaks when it bans smoking in and around all council buildings from March 2007.

There is no requirement to provide smoking shelters for employees and others. However, if you do have an outsider smoking shelter or area, you will need to be sure that it is not "enclosed" or "substantially enclosed" under the definitions that are set out in the draft smoke-free regulations. The ban is to apply to partially covered venues - the open areas of which make up less than half their total area. For example, if 40% of a pub's garden area was covered the ban would not apply. But if 60% of it was covered, then the ban would apply. An enclosed area can be so even if this is temporary and "roof " includes, for example a canvas awning.

Employers, managers and those in charge of smoke-free premises and vehicles will need to:

  • Identify all areas where smoking will constitute an offence and display 'no smoking' signs (to comply with regulatory minimum requirements as stated in the draft regulations),
  • take reasonable steps to ensure that staff, customers/members and visitors are aware that premises and vehicles are legally required to be smoke-free
  • ensure that no one smokes in smoke-free premises or vehicles - this may involve altering the staff handbook, invoking disciplinary procedures and ejecting visitors from the premises if the policy is breached

Best Practice suggestions:

  • remove ashtrays from smoke-free areas
  • develop a smoke-free policy in consultation with staff, including how to deal with non-compliance
  • provide your staff and customers with support to quit smoking
  • ensure that your staff and customers know where they can smoke if they choose to

For further advice and guidance please feel free to contact us.

Further information on the Health Act 2006 can be obtained from:

The office of public sector information website

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