Health Act 2006 - Smoke-free places

Smoke-free legislation in the Health Act 2006 came into force in England on 1 July 2007. It made virtually all indoor public places and work places, including work vehicles, smoke-free, protecting workers and the public from the harmful effects of passive or secondary smoke.

It is a criminal offence to smoke in a smoke-free place (section 7 of the Health Act 2006). It is also the legal duty of any person who controls or is concerned with the management of smoke-free premises to cause a person there to stop smoking (section 8 of the Health Act 2006). It is an also an offence not to display no smoking signs in a smoke-free workplace or public place (section 6 of the Health Act 2006).

The law applies to smoking any substance, or being in possession of lit tobacco or any other lit substance in a form in which it could be smoked, such as:

  • manufactured cigarettes

  • hand-rolled cigarettes

  • pipes

  • cigars

  • herbs

  • water / shisha pipes

 

Smoke-free premises

The legislation covers all premises, which are wholly or substantially enclosed, and

  • used as a place of work by more than one person, and/or

  • open for use or access by the public

'Enclosed' means an area with permanent walls and doors without any gaps. Windows and doors aren’t classed as gaps. An enclosed structure may be permanent i.e. a building or even a marquee (temporary).

'Substantially enclosed' would be a structure (with a roof/ceiling) with an opening in the walls where the opening would make up less than half of the area of the total wall space. Again doors and windows are not classed as gaps.

This means that premises such as factories, offices, shops, public and government buildings, shopping centres, schools, pubs, bars, restaurants and hospitals are required to be smoke-free and to have smoke-free policies in place.

Exemptions include private accommodation, but not common parts (e.g. the landings, staircases and lifts), hotel accommodation and other residential accommodation in care homes.

Depending on construction some doorways to buildings that are workplaces are substantially enclosed places. Employees, customers and visitors should not use it as a smoking shelter.

 

Smoke-free vehicles

All vehicles used for public transport such as buses, trains and taxis must be smoke-free.

Vehicles used as a workplace by more than one person, regardless of whether they are in the vehicle at the same time, are required to be smoke-free at all times. This protects shift and other workers using the same vehicle from the hazards of second hand smoke. A worker can smoke in a company car that only they use if their employer agrees.

From 1 October 2015, all private vehicles must be smoke-free if they are enclosed, there is more than one person present and one of them is under 18 years of age. It is an offence for:

  • a person of any age to smoke in a private vehicle that is carrying someone who is under 18 years of age.

  • a driver (including a provisional driver) not to stop someone smoking in these circumstances.

Enforcement of the private vehicle requirement is usually by the police.

 

Penalties for smoking in a smoke-free place

The following offences and penalties under the Health Act 2006 apply:

  • smoking in a smoke-free place can lead to a fixed penalty of £50 (reduced to £30 if paid in 15 days); or a maximum fine of £200 if convicted by a court

  • failure to prevent smoking in a smoke-free place - a fine of £2,500 (there is no fixed penalty option for this offence

  • failure to display a no smoking sign in a smoke-free place, can lead to a fixed penalty of £200 (reduced to £150 if paid in 15 days) or a maximum fine of £1,000 if convicted by a court

  • smoking in a private vehicle with someone under 18 years of age present can lead to a fixed penalty of £50 (reduced to £30 if paid in 15 days), or a maximum fine of £200 if convicted by a court

  • failure by the person in control (driver) of a private smoke-free private vehicle, which contains someone under the age of 18, to stop a person from smoking can lead to a fixed penalty of £50 (reduced to £30 if paid in 15 days), or a maximum fine of £2,500 if convicted by a court.

In addition, the Railway Byelaws, under the Transport Act 2000, generally ban smoking from railway property and trains. The Air Navigation Order, under the Civil Aviation Act 1982, prohibits smoking on passenger aircraft.

 

Electronic cigarettes

There is currently no national legislation in place which restricts the use of electronic cigarettes in premises or vehicles. It is a matter for the owner, manager or person in control to decide whether the use of electronic cigarettes are to be permitted in their premises or in their vehicles. Most train operating companies have banned electronic cigarettes and 'vapes'.  

 

Need more information?

Further information on the requirements under the Health Act 2006 and what it means for businesses, employers, employees and the public can be found on the Smoke-Free England website.

 

Smoke-Free Newcastle is a partnership of organisations and agencies who are working together to reduce the impact of smoking across Newcastle.

 

If you have received a fixed penalty notice see here to make payment.

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