Smoke-Free Legislation

Smoke free legislation applies to every business and organisation employing people and requires all workplaces and enclosed public places to be smoke free. This means that places of work such as factories, offices, shops, public and government buildings, schools, bars, restaurants, hospitals, charities, public transport and many others are required to be smoke free and to have smoke free policies in place.

The legislation doesn't just apply to licensed premises or organisations of a certain size or limited companies but to every enclosed or substantially enclosed place where people work.

A premise or structure will be considered substantially enclosed if it has a ceiling or roof  but there is an opening or aggregate area of openings in the walls which is less than half of the total area of the walls, including other structures that serve the purpose of walls and constitute the perimeter of the premise. This is called the '50% rule'


The regulations specify the penalties for the smoke free offences created within the Health Act 2006:

  • The maximum fine on conviction for an offence relating to the display of no smoking signs currently £1000. Where the fixed penalty procedure is used for an alleged offence relating to the display of no smoking signs, the fixed penalty is £200.
  • The maximum fine on conviction for an offence of smoking in a smoke free place currently £200. Where the fixed penalty procedure is used for an alleged offence of smoking in a smoke free place, the fixed penalty is £50.
  • Section 8 of the Health Act 2006 places a legal duty on any person who controls or is concerned with the management of smoke free premises to cause a person there to stop smoking. The maximum fine on conviction for failing to prevent smoking in a smoke free place currently £2500.

As of today's date there have not been any notices served or prosecutions carried out under the smoke free legislation

Are there any exemptions?

Certain establishments where people live and which are also workplaces e.g. prison cells, hospices and long-stay residential homes are exempt.

However this does not mean that smoking will be allowed throughout the premises. Instead, employers have to identify 'designated smoking rooms' which are completely enclosed, do not have a ventilation system into smoke free areas, have mechanical door closing if opens onto smoke free area, the designation of smoking rooms must be given in writing by the person in charge of the premises, display appropriate signs and the designated communal smoking rooms must be used solely for smoking and must not serve any other purpose i.e. used as a recreational or television room.

What about vehicles?

Vehicles used as a workplace by more than one person, regardless if they are not in the vehicle at the same time, are required to be smoke free at all times. This is applicable to any vehicle used for work when it is wholly or partly covered by a roof i.e. heavy goods vehicle, delivery van or a farming vehicle. This protects shift and other workers who use the same vehicle from the health risks associated with second hand smoke, and provides consistency with other non-mobile workplaces.

What about entrances to buildings?

Depending on construction some doorways to offices and shops etc are 'substantially' enclosed places. Make sure that employees, customers and visitors are aware and do not use it as a smoking shelter.

Some businesses may want to consider making it a policy that smoking is not permitted within a certain distance from entrances, so that employees, visitors and the public do not have to walk through second-hand smoke to get into the building.

Consideration should also be given to the provision of external stubbing-out bins at entrances to keep smoking-related litter to a minimum.

Shisha and the law for bar-owners

The law classes shisha smoking the same as cigarette smoking.  It is illegal to smoke shisha in an enclosed public space, or a space that's mostly-enclosed.  To smoke in any public premises with a roof, at least half the wall space must be open. The ban applies to smoking through water pipes whether or not the shisha contains tobacco.

Further Information

Further Information regarding complying with Smoke Free legislation can be found on the Smoke Free England website and advice/support to quit smoking can be found on the official NHS website.

Freedom of Information – Smoke Free Complaints

The smoke free legislation complaints data for the last 6 years can be found below.

Food, Health and Safety Team

Housing and Environmental Enforcement
Guildhall, Marshall's Yard
DN21 2NA