On July 1st 2007, virtually all enclosed public places and workplaces in England became smokefree. This means that it is against the law to smoke in the indoor parts of places such as pubs, bars, nightclubs, cafes and restaurants, lunch rooms, membership clubs and shopping centres. At work, smoking inside has become a thing of the past, and indoor smoking rooms are no longer allowed. Public transport and work vehicles used by more than one person are also required to be smokefree. No-smoking signs should be displayed in all smokefree premises and vehicles, to make it clear where you can and can't smoke.
The new smokefree law has been introduced to protect employees and the public from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.
Secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard, and there is no safe level of exposure. Every time someone breathes in secondhand smoke, they breathe in over 4,000 chemicals. Many are highly toxic. More than 50 are known to cause cancer. And, because 85% of secondhand smoke is invisible and odourless, even though you think your workplace, pub or club is not a particularly smoky place you may be at more risk than you realise.
Medical and scientific evidence shows that exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of serious medical conditions such as lung cancer, heart disease, asthma attacks, childhood respiratory disease, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and reduced lung function.
For more information, see our handy leaflet on how the new smokefree law will affect you
Local councils are responsible for enforcing the new law in England. They have worked closely with businesses ensuring that everyone understands how to become smokefree.
In other smokefree countries, such as Ireland, Scotland and New Zealand, the levels of compliance are high, and the laws quickly became self-enforcing. However, anyone who doesn't comply with the new smokefree law will be committing a criminal offence.
Anyone who smokes in a smokefree place could face an on the spot fine of £50 (or £200 if the matter goes to court)for smoking in a smokefree place, whilst anyone in charge of smokefree premises or vehicles could face fines for two separate offences: failing to prevent smoking in a smokefree place and failing to display no-smoking signs.
If someone is smoking in a smokefree place or vehicle, you should alert the manager or the person in charge of the premises or vehicle in the first instance.
Alternatively you can contact the relevant local council or phone the Smokefree Compliance Line on 0800 587 166 7 to make a report. This information will be passed to the relevant local authority to follow up as appropriate.
For more information on enforcement and penalties for those who break the law:
Around 70% of smokers say they want to stop smoking, and the new smokefree law may provide extra motivation to do so. If you'd like to quit, there is excellent free support available from the NHS. This includes: