smokefree england

On 1 July 2007 legislation came into force making virtually all 'enclosed' and 'substantially enclosed' public places and workplaces smokefree.

What Does This Mean?

Most public places and workplaces in the country are now smokefree. These include all offices, factories, shops, pubs, bars, cafes, transport, restaurants, clubs (including private members clubs) and even common parts in residential buildings that are used by more than one person.

  • It is an offence to smoke in smokefree premises
  • It is an offence for managers of smokefree premises to permit others to smoke within the premises
  • It is an offence for managers of smokefree premises to not display necessary signs at the premises

This law also means that indoor smoking rooms will no longer be allowed. So anyone wishing to smoke will have to go outside instead.

What Does 'Enclosed' and 'Substantially Enclosed' Mean?

Premises are enclosed if they:

  • Have a ceiling or roof, and
  • Except for doors, windows and passageways are completely enclosed either permanently or temporarily


Premises are substantially enclosed if they have a ceiling or roof but there are:

  • Openings in the walls, which make up less than half of the total wall area of the structure. This is known as the 50% rule
  • When determining the area of an opening no account can be taken of those which have fittings that can be opened and closed (windows, doors, shutters etc)
  • A roof includes any fixed or movable structure (awning etc)
  • Tents, marquees and other temporary structures are deemed to be enclosed and so the same rules apply


What Would Qualify as a Smoking Shelter?

Basically the rule of thumb is that the area must either have no roof, or have a roof and be less than 50% walled.

What Sort of Smoking does The Smokefree Legislation Cover?

The legislation covers all smoking, including manufactured and hand-rolled cigarettes, pipes, cigars, herbal cigarettes and water pipes (including shisha, hookah and hubble-bubble pipes).

What Do I Need To Do To Comply With The Smokefree England Regulations?


  • Display the legally required sign at all entrances to your premises
  • Display no smoking signs in vehicles used by more than one person
  • Take reasonable steps to ensure that staff, customers/members and visitors are aware that premises and vehicles are legally required to be smokefree
  • Ensure that no one smokes in smokefree premises or vehicles
  • Check that any smoking shelter that you currently provide for staff complies with the 50% rule. NB: There is no requirement for you to provide a smoking shelter but if you do it must comply with the 50% rule
  • If you are considering building or erecting a structure of any description check with the Planning and Building Control Departments to find out if you will require planning permission or building regulation approval
  • If your premises currently holds a licence check with the Licensing Authority to see if you require to vary your licence. NB: Ensure that you allow at least 60 days for your variation application to be processed as once the application is lodged you will need to advertise it for 28 days and if representations are received a hearing will have to be arranged. Even if your business is currently smokefree you will still need to ensure that you comply with the first 4 provisions listed in this section.


  • As of 1 July 2007 ensure that you do not smoke in a public building, work place or vehicle that is either public transport or used by more than one person for work purposes
  • Consider options for disposal of cigarette stubs without causing a nuisance with litter. 'Stubby' wallets are cheap and easy to obtain


What Are The Specific Requirements With Regard To Signs In Smokefree Premises and Vehicles?


  • Premises that are to be smokefree under law will be required to have no smoking signs in place at each entrance, displayed in a prominent position
  • Signage should be a minimum area of any shape that is equal to the size A5 showing the international no smoking symbol at least 70mm in diameter (the most commonly used minimum size currently); and contains in characters that can be easily read the following words: 'No smoking. It is against the law to smoke in these premises'



  • Vehicles that are to be smokefree under law will be required to display a no smoking sign which carries only the international no smoking symbol (a minimum of 70mm in diameter)
  • If a vehicle has two or more compartments it must display a no smoking sign in each compartment e.g. each carriage of a train

Private Dwellings

  • The legislation only applies to the common parts of the building if the common parts are open to the public, or used as a place of work by more than one person (even if the persons who work there do so at different times, or only intermittently)
  • Common parts include common entrance lobbies, stairwells, lifts, corridors plus any facilities/area shared by the occupants of more than one household. So, for example, if the property is split into bed-sit, the common parts would include any kitchens, bathrooms or living/dining areas that are shared by more than one household

Why Are Ventilated Smoking Rooms Not An Alternative?

Evidence shows that ventilation does not provide a solution to eliminating the risks associated with second-hand smoke. Scientists have shown that to remove the risks of second-hand smoke, an enclosed premises would need wind tunnel-like rates of ventilation, which would then make smoking nearly impossible.

What Will Happen If I Don’t Comply?

  • Local Authority environmental health staff will be enforcing this law. Initially our enforcement officers will give advice and warn people. However the following enforcement options are available and will be used where the educational/advisory approach has failed
  • Smoking in a smokefree premises or vehicle: a fixed penalty notice of £50 or a fine not exceeding level 1 on the standard scale (up to £200)
  • Failure to display no smoking signs in smokefree premises and vehicles as required by smokefree legislation: a fixed penalty notice of £200 or a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale (up to £1000)
  • Failing to prevent smoking in a smokefree premises or vehicle: a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale (up to £2500)

For further information and to download documents on the smoking ban visit: The Smokefree England website