• International Workplace
  • 15 June 2007

Smoking ban: survey results revealed

The results of the Workplace Law Smoking Ban online survey are in, and one thing seems clear: that employers are still a little unclear about how the smoking ban will affect their business.

With three weeks to go until the ban comes into force, Workplace Law asked its users to fill out an online survey containing three questions about how the new anti-smoking legislation will apply to vehicles and work premises. The results are as follows:

Q. Can you smoke in any car that is used for work purposes?

97% say you cannot smoke in any car that is used for work purposes ...

A. However, this is not always the case. If a private car is used primarily by one employee it may be exempt, although the definition of primarily remains to be tested in a court of law.

Also, if a vehicle is provided to an employee for work purposes, and is solely for that employee's own use, and is never used to transport others, it would not be covered by the legislation. In practice this may not often be the case, and employers may need to update their driving at work policies to make the distinctions clearer.

Q. Can you smoke outside a workplace?

79% believe you can smoke outside the workplace…

A. Whilst it may be true that people can still smoke outside their workplace, employers do still have several important legal responsibilities which need to be considered before the ban is implemented.

They have to make sure any smoking takes place far enough away from the building so that smoke is not blown back in.

If smokers are using any kind of outdoor shelter, there are strict rules that govern whether the shelter comes under the definition of an enclosed space where smoking would therefore be illegal.

Businesses may also become liable for any smoking-related litter which is generated on or near their premises, as proposals for a system of fixed penalty notices to be served on companies have been made recently by Defra.

Q. Does a workplace have to have a sign on every door within the building?

78% say you don't have to have a sign on every door…

A. True, the requirement is for signage on any entrance to a premises so, for example, fire doors which are exits or adjoining entrances may well be exempt.

However, in a multi-tenanted building there is no clear guidance on who is responsible for signs at the entrance to each tenant's area, but enforcement authorities are likely to expect individual tenants to make sure entrances to their part of the building have the relevant signage if the landlord does not provide these.

Under the new workplace smoking legislation employers could receive a fine of £200 if the proper signage is not displayed and up to £2,500 if they do not enforce the ban correctly, so it is important for employers to be as informed as possible before the ban comes into force.

Workplace Law would like to thank everyone who took part in the survey. A bottle of champagne and a free copy of the Guide to Smoking Ban 2007 are on their way to Mr John Trigell from the Renault F1 Team Ltd who was drawn from our list of 1,133 people who took part in the survey.

Workplace Law Network’s new downloadable Guide to Smoking Ban 2007 is designed to explain the many complex aspects of the smoking ban, and suggest ways in which employers, premises managers and service providers can keep in line with the legislation. Written in Workplace Law’s jargon-free, plain-English style, this downloadable publication is an indispensable resource for all those affected by the ban.