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Smoking in the Workplace

Developing and Implementing A Smoking Policy
The aspect of the restriction on smoking in the workplace has changed greatly in recent times, with regards to occupational health and safety, there is little reference in existing legislation relating to the topic of smoking in the workplace.

Employers are required by the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to ensure that their employees and other persons who may be affected by their undertakings are not put at risk.

In addition, The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires employers to make assessments of all the risks to health and safety in their workplace and to identify any groups of employees who may be especially at risk and to take appropriate measures to control any unacceptable risks.

Neither of these specifically mention the issue of smoking, however. The only occupational health and safety legislation which mentions the issue of smoking directly is Regulation 25 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, which requires the employer to ensure that non-smokers are protected from the discomfort of tobacco smoke in rest areas.

Recent developments have been made by The Department of Health, rather than the Health and Safety Commission.

It is a matter devolved for the various different United Kingdom assemblies and parliaments. As such, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have introduced their own legislation at various stages. As of 1st July 2007, England became the last part of the UK to enact legislation.

There are minor differences between the legislation on the different parts of the UK, although all have much the same intentions. There is no compulsion on employers to provide any smoking facilities (e.g. outside shelters), however some may choose to do so as part of a smoking policy.

A smoke free UK ensures a healthier environment so everyone can socialise, relax, travel, shop and work free from second-hand smoke.

General Information
It is now against the law to smoke in virtually all "enclosed" and "substantially enclosed" public places and workplaces in the UK, including public transport and work vehicles.

No Smoking signs must be displayed in all smoke-free premises and vehicles.

Staff smoking rooms and indoor smoking areas are no longer allowed, so anyone who wants to smoke now has to go outside.

Managers of smoke-free premises and vehicles have legal responsibilities to prevent people from smoking.

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Penalties and Fines
Penalties for non-compliance vary according to the legislation in each part of the UK. Typical penalties include a fixed penalty notice of £50 imposed on the person smoking (or a maximum fine of £200 if prosecuted and convicted by a court).

Failure to display No Smoking signs can result in a fixed penalty notice of £200 (reduced to (£150 if paid in fifteen days) being imposed on whoever manages or occupies the smoke-free premises or vehicle (or a maximum fine of £1,000 if prosecuted and convicted by a court).

Failing to prevent smoking in a smoke-free place can result in a maximum fine of £2,500 being imposed on whoever manages or controls the smoke-free premises or vehicle if prosecuted and convicted by a court. There is no fixed penalty notice for this offence.

Local councils and authorities are responsible for enforcing the new law throughout the UK.

All smoke-free premises and vehicles need to display No Smoking signs that meet with the requirements of the law. The signs make it clear which premises and vehicles are smoke-free and demonstrate that you are taking the necessary steps to meet the requirements of the new smoke-free law.

The international No Smoking symbol in both signs must be at least 70mm in diameter. This symbol consists solely of a graphic representation of a single burning cigarette enclosed in a red circle with a red bar across it. Compliant No Smoking signs can be copied and printed from the Smoke-free England website at

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Smoke Free Policy
Businesses may wish to introduce a smoke-free policy to ensure that employees are aware of the new law and to reiterate that they now work in a smoke-free environment. It will also advise employees on what they should be doing to comply with the new law.

A smoke-free policy should address the following issues:

  • A clear policy needs to be stated to confirm and reiterate compliance with legal requirements as well as company philosophy
  • Any policy that is introduced, needs to be prominently displayed and communicated
  • Any policy needs to be entered into any revised terms and conditions
  • The policy should be referred to in the company’s health and safety policy
  • Implementation needs to be fully understood by all employees
  • There should be acknowledgement that any individual has the right to smoke outside the workplace but that as an employer the company has the right to regulate the incidence and location on its own premises
  • The use of smoking materials in areas where they are banned for fire/explosion/safety reasons should continue to constitute an action og gross misconduct

Stopping Smoking
A range of support and advice is available to help smokers who want to give up.

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