Smoking Ban – and how it Affects your Business

Smoking Ban – and how it Affects your Business

Do you know how the new smoking ban legislation will affect your business? Are you aware of the consequences of failing to comply with the smoking ban? Paul Johnson looks at the key points of the new law and the steps franchisors need to take.

Smoking at work is becoming a thing of the past. As of July 1, it will be illegal for any employee or customer to smoke inside virtually any business location in England.
Other areas of the UK – Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – have already put in place similar bans on smoking within enclosed public spaces or workplaces, as has Ireland and much of Europe and the US. No matter how large or small your business is you need to know how the new legislation will affect you, what you can do to help staff and what steps you need to take to avoid the risk of prosecution.

The key aim of the new ban is to protect employees and the public from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke – often called passive smoking – as well as encourage regular smokers to give up the habit.

Few people can be in the dark about the potentially deadly threat posed by tobacco. Second-hand smoke is a serious health hazard, containing more than 4,000 chemicals, many of them highly toxic.
 
So health benefits aside, how will the ban affect businesses and franchise operations, many of which are SMEs, which until now have been able to take a relatively flexible approach with smoking at work. Franchised hospitality businesses especially – such as bars, pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants – are facing a complete change in culture. We look at some of the key points for the legislation covering England’s new smoke-free law.

Definitions
•    Smoking is banned within any ‘enclosed’ or ‘substantially enclosed’ area. Premises are considered ‘enclosed’ if they have a ceiling or roof and are wholly enclosed either on a permanent or temporary basis.

•    Premises will be considered ‘substantially enclosed’ if they have a ceiling or roof, but have an opening in the walls, which is less than half the total area of the walls. The area of the opening does not include doors, windows or any other fittings that can be opened or shut. For example, a room enclosed on three sides with a roof would be considered ‘substantially enclosed’ but one that had just a roof and one wall would be acceptable to smoke in.

•    The ban covers all types of smoking – including cigarettes, pipes and cigars – and the rules apply to customers and anyone working at or visiting the business – from senior managers to temporary staff, and from the largest firms down to sole-traders.

•    The rules can seem a little complex, but local councils can offer further help.

Business buildings
Smoking is banned inside all places of work or business. This includes offices, factories, warehouses, shops and waiting areas and applies to both staff and customers alike.

Food and drink
The ban applies to everyone inside pubs, bars, clubs, cafes and restaurants. The biggest effect is on customers, who are no longer allowed to smoke while inside an establishment, although outside smoking areas are allowed.

Staff and customer smoking areas
Smoking rooms inside any place of work are now banned, although staff or visiting customers can still smoke outside a building, be it in public or private space. Firms are under no obligation however to provide any outside heaters or shelters for smokers.
It is acceptable under the new rules for businesses – pubs for example – to let smokers light up in outside smoking areas, perhaps even using heaters or a small roof shelter to keep away the worst of the elements. The important point to remember is that the area is not ‘enclosed’ or ‘substantially enclosed’.

Transport
Smoking in any car, van or truck used for work purposes is banned, unless the vehicle is used exclusively by one person. This means that even if a vehicle is carrying two regular, consensual smokers, smoking is still banned. Also, because of the difficulty in ensuring that only one person will ever be in a car (and won’t regularly carry clients, colleagues or customers) smoking in most vehicles is effectively banned. Following on from this, smoking is banned in all taxis at all times, for both drivers and passengers.
The only exceptions to the rule – when smoking is allowed – are vehicles that are used mainly for private use and in convertible cars (with the hood down).

Private homes
The smoking ban doesn’t cover workers visiting clients in their private homes – for example a computer repair franchise business. This means theoretically both workers and customers can smoke, although this is obviously discouraged, especially among non-smoking clients.
Businesses that operate from someone’s house also need to be smoke free if they are used by more than one person who doesn’t live at the home, or are used or visited by customers.

Exceptions
While there are few, loopholes to the new law, there are some important exceptions. In the main these include designated smoking rooms in hotels and other places that provide sleeping accommodation, as well as specialist tobacco shops that can allow small amounts of pipe or cigar smoking for sampling purposes.

Signs
All business premises and vehicles that are covered by the smoke-free law – and that’s most of them – must display ‘no smoking’ signs. There are strict rules on the size, layout and placement of such signs to comply with the law. Firms can design their own signs around the guidelines or download and print them from www.smokefreeengland.co.uk/resources or by calling 0800 169 169 7.

Enforcement and penalties
Managers of business premises and company vehicles have a legal responsibility to ensure no one is smoking illegally and local councils are responsible for enforcing the ban.
Smokers flouting the rules face a £50 fixed penalty, or a maximum fine of £200 if convicted by a court. Businesses that fail to display no smoking signs can face a £200 fixed penalty or a £1,000 fine if convicted in court, while firms that fail to prevent illegal smoking can face a maximum fine of £2,500 if convicted by a court.
A telephone line – 0800 587 1667 – lets staff or customers report a breach of the smoking law, and information is passed on to councils.

What firms can do
Businesses are being encouraged to develop and adopt a smoke-free policy, helping to ensure employees are aware of the new law and what they need to do to comply. This can be a verbal agreement with staff, a written agreement incorporated into existing business or health and safety policies or an entirely separate written document.
Firms can also offer extra guidance and resources for those trying to quit smoking, such as sponsoring or setting up smoking cessation clubs.

Contact
For more information, details of the ban and legal responsibilities, as well as downloadable resources, log on to www.smokefreeengland.co.uk or call 0800 169 1697.

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