The Laws Around Smoking And What You Should Know

Back in 2007 the Smoke Free law was introduced which made it illegal to smoke in public enclosed / substantially enclosed areas and workplaces for the health of workers and those around the local vicinity. Everyone knows that this law came into place, but it’s not the last one to deal with the topic of smoking in public areas. Alongside this, another law came into effect on the 1st October 2015 which saw smoking within cars come under scrutiny when anyone under the age of 18 is present in the vehicle.

You are no doubt fully aware that the legal age to purchase cigarettes, tobacco and the such is 18 in the United Kingdom? But did you know that if you’re under 18 and you get caught smoking in public, police officers are well within their rights to confiscate your cigarettes?

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These are just some of the basic facts for the laws surrounding smoking, yet a surprising amount of people don’t know them. When you start delving into the laws surrounding cigarette smoking it can get a little confusing, especially with the rise of e-cigarettes, so we’ve broken some of the main points down for you:

Smoking in a car

As of October 2015 you’re no longer allowed to smoke in a car, even if it’s your own, if there is anyone under the age of 18 in the car too. It doesn’t matter if you roll the windows down or open the sunroof, it’s not allowed.

However, this law does not apply to e-cigarettes or those driving a convertible with the top down.

Smoking in your home

Your home is your own to do in as you please, unless of course you’re renting and your landlord specifically states you’re not allowed to smoke within it, in which case you’ll need to go outside.

However, if you have people around to work on your home (i.e. builders, plumbers, electricians, paints & decorators etc.) it’s common courtesy not to smoke around them, and they are entitled to ask you to stop smoking or cease working if you don’t.

Smoking in public

The bulk of the 2007 Smoke Free law relates to public spaces, whether enclosed or substantially enclosed. An enclosed space could be a permanent building or a temporary marquee, for example, whereby it’s an area with permanent walls and no gaps (windows and doors are not classed as gaps). Similarly, a substantially enclosed area is a structure that contains a roof or ceiling that has openings in the wall which make up less than half of the total wall space area (again, windows and doors are not classed as gaps). This is particularly applicable to hotels, restaurants and pubs, but not limited to just these examples.

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Smoking at work

Can you believe there used to be a time when people could smoke in their offices? This then changed over time, with smokers being given a designated room within the work building, as long as it provided good ventilation. Neither of these are the case anymore.

Staff smoking rooms are no longer allowed, with smokers either told to smoke outside of the workplace, or being offered shelter outside of the workplace where they can gather and even be covered from the weather – this, however, isn’t mandatory for businesses to provide.

This also applies to work vehicles that are used by more than one person, however those who use single-use work vehicles must obtain permission from their employer to smoke inside it.

Workers can receive a fine of up to £200 within the UK if they break any of these laws, with employers and businesses being fined up to £2,000 if they don’t stop employees smoking within the workplace, and a further £1,000 if they don’t display ‘no smoking’ signs.

Smoking on public transport

When the smoking ban was introduced, Transport for London got on-board, banning smoking from bus shelters, taxis, private-hire vehicles and all London buses. Followed by the Association of Train Operating Companies and Network Rail who went on to ban smoking from all railway property including station platforms (regardless of whether they’re enclosed or not) and has further gone on to include a ban on e-cigarettes.

Exemptions from the Smoke Free law;

  • Designated smoking rooms within hotels
  • Designated rooms with nursing homes – for patient use, not staff
  • Designated rooms within prisons
  • Designated rooms on-board offshore oil rigs
  • Specialist tobacconists – where sampling products is on offer
  • Private residences – but not within shared corridors, entrances and work spaces

The best rule of thumb, however, that we can provide is that if you’re unsure if you can smoke somewhere, play it safe and just don’t. Hold off and wait until you’re in a public space, the street or a park for example, where you know you won’t be breaking any laws by lighting up.

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Found in Health Awareness