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How the smoking ban will affect your business

Summer 2007

The smoking ban, which comes into effect in England from 1 July 2007 – following the rest of the UK – will affect most enclosed workplaces, including vehicles, used by more than one person or to which the public have access.

Businesses will have to put up no smoking signs at every entrance to smoke-free premises, including staff-only entrances and fire exits. The signs must have the specified wording, be A5 in size and include the international no smoking symbol. Smoke-free vehicles must display a sign in every compartment to which employees or the public have access. Anyone in charge of a workplace must also ensure smoking does not take place by taking whatever reasonable measures are needed.

Penalties of up to £2,500 can be imposed on employers who turn a blind eye to smoking. Failure to display a no smoking sign will attract a fixed penalty of £200, and more if the case goes to court. Employers are allowed to provide smoking shelters, but these are not compulsory. They will need planning permission, which may take some time to obtain in the run-up to the ban, and must comply with strict rules to avoid being classified themselves as smoke-free premises. Exceptions to the ban are mainly for premises that are partly residential, including hotels which may allow smoking in specific rooms, subject to strict conditions.

The ban does not, of course, mean that employees will stop smoking. Smokers who cannot go without a cigarette will need to take a break to smoke, as they do now in places that are already smoke-free. This can cause resentment among non-smokers. Having a clear company policy on smoking, developed in consultation with employees, should help avoid such friction and ensure smokers stick to rules regarding the timing of breaks. Figures from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) indicate that the average smoker spends 115 hours a year on untimetabled cigarette breaks during work.

Hilton Sharp & Clarke