Smokefree frequently asked questions

Smokefree frequently asked questions

The frequently asked questions below try to address points that may be of concern in the run up to the smoke free law coming into effect in Walsall.

More information on complying with the Smokefree law can be found on the Smoke Free England website.

When will the new law come into effect?

6am on Sunday 2 July 2007.

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What is the aim of the new law?

The law aims to protect the public from the harmful effects of passive smoking. Breathing other people’s smoke is called passive, involuntary or second-hand smoking. The non-smoker breathes ‘side stream’ smoke from the burning tip of the cigarette and ‘mainstream’ smoke that has been inhaled and then exhaled by the smoker. Second-hand smoke is a major source of indoor air pollution.

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What does the law do?

The new law prohibits smoking in affected premises by creating the following offences:

  • permitting others to smoke in smoke free premises;
  • smoking in smoke free premises;
  • failing to display warning notices in smoke free premises;
  • setting out the powers of enforcement officers to enter smoke free  premises; and
  • Failing without reasonable cause to give one’s name and address on request by an enforcement officer.

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What is meant by ‘smoke free premises’?

The full list of smoke free premises can be found in the Regulations. To determine whether your premises come under the new law it must be:

  • used as a place of work by one or more people (even if those persons do not work there at the same time or only intermittently), or
  • open to members of the public; and
  • in either case is enclosed or substantially enclosed.

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Are there any exemptions to the law?

There are very few exemptions to the law namely:

  • private dwellings and private vehicles,
  • self-contained rented holiday accommodation, for example; caravans and cottages,
  • designated bedrooms in hotels, guest houses, inns, hostels and members clubs,
  • designated rooms or bedrooms in care homes and secure institutions,
  • specialist tobacconists,
  • offshore installations,
  • research and testing facilities.

Nothing in the new law, however, obliges an employer or manager of exempted premises to permit smoking or to provide a smoking area.

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Will the new law affect my business premises?

Most business premises will be affected. If they are one of the kinds of premises listed and is wholly or substantially enclosed then they will be smoke free premises.

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What do you mean by ‘wholly or substantially enclosed’?

There is an area or room with a ceiling or roof that – except for doors, windows and passageways – is either wholly enclosed (whether permanently or temporarily); or is enclosed but for an opening which is less than half of the area of its walls. The legal definition can be found in the smoking regulations.

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How will the new law affect my business premises?

If your premises are affected by the smoke-free law, you, your staff, customers and visitors will not be allowed to smoke in the enclosed areas of your premises.

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Does this apply to my customers?

Yes.

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My workplace has designated or segregated areas for smoking. Is this not enough?

No, the legislation requires that any smoke free premises must be completely smoke-free, unless an exemption applies under the legislation. This is because only a complete ban on smoking in enclosed areas will reduce exposure to passive smoking. This means that smoking rooms inside workplaces will no longer be allowed.

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My premise is well ventilated. Does that not provide protection from passive smoking?

No. There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke. Ventilation systems improve comfort by removing the smell and visibility of smoke. They do not remove toxic carcinogens from the air.

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I have a very small business with only a couple of employees who both smoke. Does this law still apply to me?

Yes, if your workplace is wholly or substantially enclosed.

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

Employers, managers and those in control of smoke free premises must display no-smoking signs on the premises and take reasonable measures 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:

  • the display of no-smoking notices (as specified in the legislation and guidance) so that they are clearly visible to all employees, customer and visitors while they are in the premises or approaching them;
  • removing all ashtrays from premises;
  • developing and implementing a smoke-free policy;
  • informing anyone smoking inside the premises that he/she is committing an offence; requesting that they extinguish their smoking material immediately or leave; and refusing service (if your business provides a service for customers or members).

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What do I do if someone ignores the law and smokes on my premises?

You will be expected to take all reasonable measures, outlined above, to ensure that the person stops smoking. If he/she refuses, implement your normal procedure for anti-social/illegal behaviour in the premises. In all cases where physical violence or intimidation is threatened or encountered, seek the assistance of the police.

In the case of your employees ignoring the law and smoking on your premises, you would be expected to address the issue under your normal disciplinary procedures.

Sole Traders also need to comply with the law, unless they are working from their own home.

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Do I have to provide an outside smoking shelter for my staff and/or customers?

No, nothing in the new law obliges an employer or manager of smoke free premises, or exempted premises, to permit smoking or to provide a smoking area.

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I don’t want staff congregating outside my premises to smoke. What should I do?

You may wish to discuss with your staff how best to meet your wishes, whilst acknowledging their needs. As a first step, review your existing smoking policy in consultation with staff.

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Who will enforce the law?

Environmental Health Officers of Walsall’s Public Protection Team have the power to enter all smoke free premises in order to establish that the smoke-free legislation is being enforced in accordance with the law. Officers can also give out fixed penalty notices to people whom they believe are committing, or have committed, an offence under the legislation.

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Will my business be subject to checks?

Enforcement Officers have powers to enter smoke free premises in order to check whether an offence has taken place or is being committed. Officers of the Council will, in general terms, have access to premises to which the public has access.

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What penalties will there be for those who break the law?

Those in control of smoke free premises could be liable to a fine of £2500 if they do not take reasonable action to prevent someone smoking on the premises. If they do not provide adequate No Smoking signs a fixed penalty notice of £200 can be issued. Individuals who smoke in no-smoking premises will be liable to a fixed penalty fine of £50.

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What should I be doing now?

You should discuss the implications of the new law with your staff and consider carefully the detailed guidance provided to ensure that you are in a position to comply with the law from 6am on 1 July 2007.

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What are the exemptions to the law?

Full details of the premises allowed exemptions under the smoke free legislation can be found in the smoking regulations. The exemptions are mainly restricted to ‘designated rooms’ for use by those aged 18 years of more in a care home,  hospice, mental health unit, prison, research testing facility, and designated bedrooms in a hotel, guest house, hostel, inn or members’ club which;

  • has been designated in writing by the person in charge of the establishment concerned as a room in which smoking is permitted;
  • has a ceiling and, except for doors and windows, is completely enclosed on all sides by solid floor-to-ceiling walls;
  • has a ventilation system which does not ventilate into any other part of the building, except for other designated rooms;
  • does not have any door that opens onto smoke free premises which is not mechanically closed immediately after use; and
  • Is clearly marked as a room in which smoking is permitted.

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What is meant by ‘ventilation system’ in respect of designated rooms?

If hotel bedrooms have mechanical ventilation, this should be used. However, an openable window that allows good natural ventilation will suffice, assuming that within a hotel bedroom, there would only be one or two people smoking. Hotel bedrooms which do not allow good natural ventilation due to other health and safety issues (e.g. windows which are not fully openable), should not be designated as bedrooms in which smoking can take place.

Designated rooms in adult care homes and psychiatric units should have some form of forced air ventilation that vents to the outside of the building. Designated rooms in these premises are intended for the use of residents only, not for staff or visitors. Staff should not normally be required to work in these designated smoking rooms. If they have to enter them, then their time of exposure to second-hand smoke should be kept to a minimum. Staff with pre-existing conditions exacerbated by second-hand smoke, e.g. asthma, should not be asked to enter them at all.

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Hotels, bed and breakfasts, etc.

Hotels, boarding houses, guest houses, bed and breakfasts, inns and hostels which have two or more bedrooms set apart for the sleeping accommodation of guests are covered by the new law. However, as a proprietor you will have the ability to designate one or more bedrooms where the occupants can smoke. The designated room should have a ventilation system that does not ventilate into any other par of the no-smoking premises and should be clearly marked as a room in which smoking is permitted. You are not, however, required to designate any rooms for smokers, if you do not wish to do so. Communal areas of your hotel must be smoke-free.

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Self-catering accommodation (for holidays or lodgings)

Is exempt from the smoke-free law, as long as it is rented in its entirety, including any garages or other outbuildings associated with the accommodation. As the owner of such accommodation, you are within you can require that the accommodation is smoke free.

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Private clubs, e.g. rugby clubs, snooker clubs, golf clubs, workingmen’s’ clubs

Premises which are being used by and for the purposes of a club or other unincorporated association, and which are wholly or substantially enclosed must be smoke free.

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What about a marquee?

The definition of premises includes any tent, marquee or stall. They must therefore be smoke free, if wholly of substantially enclosed.

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Sports stadiums

Due to the variation in the design of stadiums in relation to the seating or standing area of the ground, some stadiums may be substantially enclosed while some are not. We would suggest that stadium owners take their own legal advice on whether their stadium comes under the smoke free legislation as well as talking to the enforcement officers from their local authority. All wholly or substantially enclosed areas within the stadium complex must be smoke-free.

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Theatres and broadcasting/film studios

Theatres and broadcasting/film studios must be smoke free under the new law, so it will be an offence to smoke in them, including on stage, from 1 July 2007.

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Artistic Performers

If the artistic integrity of a performance requires the performer to smoke then he/she may smoke in a smoke free premise. However, the definitions of “performer” and “artistic integrity” are open to interpretation. Advice should be sought from Walsall Council's enforcement officers if you are in any doubt as to whether to allow a performer to smoke in your premises.

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Vehicles and public transportation facilities

Enclosed vehicles must be smoke free at all times if they are used by members of the public, whether for reward or hire or, in the course of paid voluntary work by more than one person, even if those people use the vehicle at different times or only intermittently.  

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What if the driver is on his/her own in the van/lorry cab?

Unless the van/lorry is never used by another person, whether or not it is at the same time, it must be smoke free at all times.

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Leased vehicles

All leased cars for private purposes are exempt. Other vehicles hired for private purposes will not need to be smoke free.

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Public transport and public transport facilities: buses, taxis, trains

All public transport must comply with the smoke-free law. This includes when the driver is in the cab on his own. Public transport facilities like bus stations and train stations should also be smoke free premises, if they are wholly or substantially enclosed. Bus shelters are also caught by the smoke-free law and should display the appropriate signage if they are wholly or substantially enclosed.

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People working from home

Are exempt from the smoke free law unless the home is also used as a place of work by other people or is visited by members of the public in connection with the work or business carried on there.

Therefore, only self-employed people who work alone at home and do not require visits from members of the public are exempt from the smoke free legislation.

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People working in other peoples’ homes

If you are employed in someone’s home as a nanny, cleaner, carer, builder or service engineer, there is no requirement for that home to be smoke free. However, you may wish to come to an agreement with the home owner as to when and where smoking can take place.

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My workplace is already smoke-free. Will I have to do anything?

You will still have a duty to comply with the new law, including putting up the required no-smoking signs for 2 July 2007 in your premises. These can be downloaded free of charge from the Department of Health’s Smoke Free England Website.

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Planes and airports

Aeroplanes do not come within the scope of this legislation. They are currently smoke free premises under aviation law. Airports in England do come within the scope of the law and should be completely smoke-free, if wholly or substantially enclosed.

If you require any further advice on the new smoke free legislation and how it might affect you and/or your business, please contact the Environmental Health Team at Walsall Council on 01922 653010 or email us at SmokeFree@walsall.gov.uk.

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