Duty of care
UK Smoking Legislation
UK Smoking Legislation – Smoking In Company Cars And Vans
- This document is designed to provide you with information on the UK Health Act 2006 regarding smoke free premises and vehicles, which came into force in England on 1st July 2007.
- Under the new Health Act, smoking is banned in public premises, including workplaces and commercial vehicles.
- Company vehicles which include cars, vans and goods vehicles used by more than one person now carry a no smoking ban for all drivers and passengers. Single use company cars and private cars have escaped the ban.
The Government’s objectives through delivering smoke free legislation are to:
- Reduce the risks to health from exposure to secondhand smoke
- Recognise a person’s right to be protected from harm and to enjoy smoke free air
- Increase the benefits of smokefree enclosed public places and workplaces for people trying to give up smoking, so that they can succeed in an environment where social pressures to smoke are reduced.
- Save thousands of lives over the next decade by reducing both exposure to hazardous secondhand smoke and overall smoking rates.
Rules And Exemptions
The new regulations prohibit smoking in all enclosed public spaces. Company vehicles are to be treated as ‘work places’ if they are used by more than one employee. The following rules apply:
- Employees who have a company vehicle for their sole use may not smoke while carrying colleagues for work purposes
- Employees who have a company vehicle for their sole use may smoke while carrying colleagues to and from a place of work, as these journeys are counted as private use
- Drivers are not allowed to smoke in a company vehicle if it is used by more than one employee, for example pool cars, as there is a risk that other colleagues might later inhale their smoke
- Employees sharing a pool car are not allowed to smoke in the vehicle, even if all the users of the vehicle are heavy smokers
- A shared company vehicle is exempt from the smoking ban if it is a convertible, but only when the roof is down
Penalties And Fines For Breaking The Law
Local councils are responsible for enforcing the new law in England. If you don’t comply with the smoke free law, you will be committing a criminal offence. The fixed penalty notices and maximum fine for each offence are:
- Smoking in smoke free premises or work vehicles: a fixed penalty notice of £50 (reduced to £30 if paid in 15 days) imposed on the person smoking. Or a maximum fine of £200 if prosecuted and convicted by a court.
- Failure to display no smoking signs: a fixed penalty notice of £200 (reduced to £150 if paid in 15 days) imposed on whoever manages or occupies the smokefree premises or vehicle. Or a maximum fine of £1000 if prosecuted and convicted by a court.
If someone is smoking in a smoke free vehicle, you should alert the manager or the person in charge of the premises or vehicle in the first instance.
No Smoking Signage
The regulations require any person with management responsibilities for a smoke free vehicle to display a no smoking sign in each enclosed compartment that can accommodate people.
The sign must be displayed in a position that is prominently visible to a person entering the vehicle. There are also subtle differences between the four countries requirements in respect of signs, with Scotland’s being the most stringent in terms of the required wording (the others being the same).
The no smoking signs must simply display the international no smoking symbol in colour, and be a minimum of 70mm in diameter. Wales and NI require a sign of 75mm diameter (there is no size requirement in Scotland).
Therefore vehicles which might travel across several borders should probably be 75 mm diameter and adopt the Scottish requirements as to wording.
Summary By Way Of Examples
- A company car used solely by one employee and not used by anyone else for work either as a driver or passenger is exempt and does not need to be smoke free;
- A privately owned car used occasionally for business purposes is exempt;
- A car shared by one or more employees but only ever used by one at a time (a pool car) is covered by the ban and must be smoke free at all times;
- A chauffeur driven car is covered by the ban and must be smoke free at all times;
- A van used by two employees, one who smokes and another who doesn’t is covered by the ban and must be smoke free at all times;
- A vehicle used by two plus employees all of whom smoke is covered by the ban and must be smoke free at all times;
- A vehicle that would otherwise be smoke free but which has a roof that can be stowed or removed will not be required to be smoke free when the roof is completely stowed/removed.
- We would recommend that the best way for companies wanting to take total control of their company smoking policy would be to ban smoking completely from all company cars and vehicles.
- Should there be any confusion surrounding the ban and which vehicles it covers, a total ban on smoking in any company owned vehicle, whether for sole use of one person or shared, may be the simplest option.
- A total ban on smoking would also ensure that vehicles are kept in better condition, which would prevent possible recharges when vehicles are returned.
Flowchart: When Should A Vehicle Used For Work Be Smoke-Free?
*The law does not define ‘primarily’ any further. It is clear that the ‘primarily’ test applies to vehicle usage, not to the purpose for which the vehicle was provided. It is unclear, however, on which basis the primary usage of the vehicle should be measured, whether by mileage or the number of occasions on which it is used. **E.g. have you limited the employee’s use of the vehicle to travel between home and work?