The smokefree law has been introduced to protect employees and the public from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.
Key points are:
- On July 1st 2007, the smokefree law was introduced. It is now against the law to smoke in virtually all 'enclosed' and 'substantially enclosed' public places and workplaces. See below for definitions.
- Public transport and work vehicles used by more than one person must be smokefree at all times.
- No-smoking signs must be displayed in all smokefree premises and vehicles.
- Staff smoking rooms and indoor smoking areas are no longer allowed, so anyone who wants to smoke has to go outside.
- Managers of smokefree premises and vehicles have legal responsibilities to prevent people from smoking.
- If you are uncertain where you can or can't smoke, just look for the no-smoking signs or ask someone in charge.
Penalties and fines for breaking the smokefree law
Local councils are responsible for enforcing the new law in England. If you don't comply with the smokefree law, you will be committing a criminal offence. The fixed penalty notices and maximum fine for each offence are:
- Smoking in smokefree premises or work vehicles: a fixed penalty notice of £50 (reduced to £30 if paid in 15 days) imposed on the person smoking. Or a maximum fine of £200 if prosecuted and convicted by a court.
- Failure to display no-smoking signs: a fixed penalty notice of £200 (reduced to £150 if paid in 15 days) imposed on whoever manages or occupies the smokefree premises or vehicle. Or a maximum fine of £1000 if prosecuted and convicted by a court.
- Failing to prevent smoking in a smokefree place: a maximum fine of £2500 imposed on whoever manages or controls the smokefree premises or vehicle if prosecuted and convicted by a court. There is no fixed penalty notice for this offence.
Local councils are responsible for enforcing the new law in England
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.
Click here to locate your local council (new window)
Definition of enclosed and substantially enclosed
Premises are considered 'enclosed' if they have a ceiling or roof and (except for doors, windows or passageways) are wholly enclosed either on a permanent or temporary basis.
Premises are considered 'substantially enclosed' if they have a ceiling or roof, but have an opening in the walls, which is less than half the total area of the walls. The area of the opening does not include doors, windows or any other fittings that can be opened or shut.
Businesses and organisations should contact their local council if they require further guidance on whether their premises are 'enclosed' or 'substantially enclosed'.