Explaining The Changes In Smoke-Free Legislation From 1st July 2007
From the 1st July 2007, it has been illegal to smoke in an enclosed public or working environment in England. There are three pieces of Legislation which determine the specifics of this law, which are the Health Act 2006 (Chapter 28, Part 1), the Smoke-free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006, and The Smoke-free (Signs) Regulations 2007. It’s the latter two Regulations which don’t come into force until 1st July 2007, which is why the law doesn’t change until that date.
So, what type of premises does the smoke-free Legislation apply to? Well, the answer is as follows:
- Premises must be smoke-free if they are open to the public (specifically during the time while they are open to the public).
- Premises must be smoke-free at all times if they are used as a place of work by more than one person, or where members of the public might attend.
- Premises must be smoke-free only in areas which are enclosed or substantially enclosed.
- Premises which may be exempt include premises where a person is living (either temporarily or permanently), such as hotels or care homes.
The Smoke-free (Premises and Enforcement) Regs specify that premises are enclosed if they have a ceiling or roof; and except for doors, windows and passageways, are wholly enclosed either permanently or temporarily. The Regs also specify that premises are substantially enclosed if they have a ceiling or roof but there is an opening in the walls which is less than half the area of the walls. Therefore, an external shelter with less than 2 whole sides exposed will be required to be smoke-free.
OFFENCE OF SMOKING
Any person who smokes in a smoke-free place (see above) will be committing an offence. Under the Health Act 2006, smoking also includes being in possession of anything lit which contains tobacco, or any other lit substance in a form in which it could be smoked.
One of the few possible defences against this offence would be for the person to show that they did not know, and could not have been reasonably expected to know that it was a smoke-free place.
DUTY-HOLDERS OFFENCE IN NOT PREVENTING SMOKING
It is also an offence under the Act to fail to prevent smoking in a smoke-free place, this specifically being the duty of any person who controls or is concerned in the management of smoke-free premises.
Possible defences against this offence would be to show that reasonable steps were taken to stop the person in question to stop smoking, or that it was not known and it could not reasonably have been expected to be known that the person in question was smoking.
NEW WORDING TO SIGNAGE
The Smoke-free (Signs) Regs specify that an A5 sized sign, displaying the no smoking symbol and the text “No smoking. It is against the law to smoke in these premises” must be displayed in a prominent position at each entrance to smoke-free premises. The only premises where the text is not required (as well as the no smoking symbol) is entrances to premises from other smoke-free premises, for example a shop within a shopping centre.
Smoke-free Legislation will be enforced by local authorities. Funding has already been provided to local authorities to support them in their new enforcement roles. It is also intended that there will be a whistle-blowing phone line, to support local authorities by allowing members of the public to report any smoke-free offences.
The Government has proposed the following penalties and fines for smoke-free offences:
- Smoking in smoke-free premises
o Fixed penalty notice of £50 (discounted to £30 if paid within 15 days), or a fine of up to £200 if the case goes to court.
- Failure to display conforming no smoking signage in smoke-free premises
o Fixed penalty notice of £200 (discounted to £150 if paid within 15 days), or a fine of up to £1,000 if the case goes to court.
- Failure to prevent smoking in smoke-free premises
o A fine of up to £2,500.