Laws affecting smoking in company cars explained

    18 Dec 2006

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    Companies face fines of up to £2,500 for failing to enforce anti-smoking laws which come into effect on 1 July 2007.

    All enclosed public places and work places in England will become smoke-free from that day - including company cars, pool and hire cars - under the 2006 Health Act.

    The legislation will make it an offence for those who control or manage smoke-free premises to fail to stop people smoking in them. No smoking signs will have to be displayed.

    Q: Will the regulations include all company vehicles?

    A: Where a vehicle is used as a workplace by more than one person, regardless of whether they are in the vehicle at the same time, it will be required to be smoke-free at all times. This is meant to protect people who use the vehicle from second-hand smoke, regardless of when they use the vehicle. Drivers of convertible cars will be exempt as long as the roof is down when they or their passengers are smoking.

    Smoking will be allowed in vehicles that are for the sole use of the driver and are not used by anyone else, either as a driver or passenger.

    Q: Some of my drivers share a company vehicle with one other person. They both smoke. Can they continue to smoke?

    A: This legislation has been developed to protect both smokers and non-smokers from second-hand smoke. As the vehicle is part of the workplace it falls within the legislation and is required to be smoke-free.

    Q: Can I smoke in my privately owned vehicle?

    A: Yes, the regulations do not extend to vehicles used for private purposes.

    Under the Act employers, managers and those in charge of smoke-free premises and vehicles will need to identify all areas where smoking will constitute an offence and display 'no smoking' signs, take reasonable steps to ensure that staff, customers/members and visitors are aware that premises and vehicles are legally required to be smoke-free ensure that no one smokes in smoke-free premises or vehicles - this may involve altering the staff handbook, invoking disciplinary procedures and ejecting visitors from the premises if the policy is breached.

    The Government has proposed that local authorities will enforce smoke-free legislation. Although the Government acknowledges this legislation will be largely self-enforcing.

    Q: What are the proposed penalty amounts?

    • Smoking in a smoke-free premises or vehicle: a fixed penalty notice of £50 or a fine up to £200.
    • Failure to display no smoking signs in smoke-free premises and vehicles as required by smoke-free legislation: a fixed penalty notice of £200 or a fine up to £1,000.
    • Failing to prevent smoking in a smoke-free premises or vehicle: a fine up to £2,500.

    There will also be a 0800 telephone number for you to report smoking offences.

    Enforcement officers will be working with businesses in the lead up to implementation in order to build understanding of the requirements of the legislation and will be on-duty to ensure compliance is maintained once the legislation comes into force next summer.

    Workplace Law’s Driving at Work 2007: Law and Practice Special Report can help you understand the law surrounding, and your obligations regarding, driving at work. Written by experts in the field, the special report is packed with extensive, up-to-date, high-level research and provides a unique insight into practical measures required to comply with the law. more info>>

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    This document is for general guidance and research purposes only, and does not purport to give professional advice. Please check the date at the top of the article; the International Workplace retains historic articles for general research.