UK Smoking Ban

The Smoking Ban England

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The Smoking Ban England and other Jurisdictions
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No Smoking
On the 1st July 2007 smoking is no longer permitted in any enclosed or substantially enclosed premises or vehicles that are open to the public.  This new law was put in place by the Smoke-free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations and the Smoke-free (Signs) Regulations.
The following are subject to the ban:

  • Pubs
  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • All places of work
  • Taxis
  • Airports
  • Train Stations
  • Train Platforms  

History of the UK smoking ban
Smoking bans have been debated in the UK parliament for many years but were never successfully implemented due to the weakness of the scientific evidence against passive smoke. In November 2004 The Scientific Committee On Tobacco And Health (SCOTH) issued a report that concluded passive smoke "represents a substantial public health hazard". SCOTH, which was made up of 16 members, was criticised for bias as 14 of its members were from either the anti-smoking movement who were actively campaigning for bans or from the pharmaceutical industry who were profiting from nicotine replacement therapy sales wherever bans were introduced. Despite this bias and the fact that no new research had been presented, the SCOTH findings catapulted passive smoke from a minor nuisance to a major public health issue.
For many years the anti smoking movement in the UK used the death of entertainer Roy Castle as an emotional claim for the justification of smoking bans. Having self diagnosed the causes of his illness, there is considerable evidence that it was not at all smoke related.

Places of Work
This is taken to mean offices, workshops etc but can also be extended to company cars and lorry rigs etc. There are some exceptions to this rule however when concerned with designated smoking areas within hotels or residential nursing homes.

What happens if I get caught smoking in a public place?
Individual members of the public can face an on-the-spot fine of £50 pounds if caught smoking in a public place. If the matter reaches court usually through repeat offending then the individual may be liable to a fine of up to £1000.

I run a pub, what happens if my premises are found to be in breach of the ban?
Employers or managers of the premises which someone has been found to be smoking in are liable to a fine of £200 which has the potential to rise to £2500 if it is not paid within the specified time frame.  
Owners or employers of premises who consistently flaunt the regulations are likely to face prosecution in court.

Obligations Under the Regulations: Signage

Public Places
No Smoking signage must be displayed on the premises at each entrance in a prominent position which is visible to all employees, customers and visitors. The signage must contain the standard no smoking sign which must be at least A5 size and specifically have the words “NO SMOKING. It is against the law to smoke on these premises” clearly displayed. The words can be varied slightly depending on the nature of the public place, for example pubs or bars can have a sign stating that it is against the law to smoke in this pub or bar.

In the case of public transport which includes taxis, trains and busses and the case of business transport, i.e. a company car, that may carry more than one specified employee there must be a sign which displays the no smoking prohibition symbol. The prohibition symbol must be at least 70mm in diameter and must be present in each possible compartment which could carry a passenger. For example a mini-cab must have the sign clearly visible in both the front and back of the car.

Effects of the ban
A perfectly normal wet British summer was blamed for the initial drop in trade as pubs, clubs and bingo halls saw sharp downturns but by the winter months it was clear that the smoking ban was having a devastating effect on the hospitality trade with an average of 4 pubs a day closing and large pubcos reporting huge drops in share prices. Trade figures showed the extent of the problem with pub closures in 2005 and 2006 being reported in the low 200's while in the first eight months after the bans introduction that shot up to 1400.

A survey by Yorview released at the end of April 2008 predicted huge losses for the Labour Government due to the unpopularity and effects of the UK smoking ban; these survey results were borne out the following month when Labour suffered its worst election results for over 40 years.

The anti smoking movement was to a certain extent unable to deny the losses and so advised the hospitality sector to start selling food in an effort to counter their losses. This however only had a limited effect in an already competitive catering market challenging for a finite number of diners.
During the second year of the smoking ban in England and Wales the onset of an economic downturn began to be used as an excuse for the huge number of pub closures. This however could not explain the ten fold increase of losses in the first year and is at odds with the history of previous economic downturns when pubs have traditionally 'boomed'. In fact analysts have pointed out that, during the seventies the pub trade peaked at a time of runaway inflation and record unemployment.

Other Jurisdictions
The following UK nations also have a smoking ban:

  • Northern Ireland – came into effect on 30th April 2007 by the Smoking (Northern Ireland) Order 2006. 
  • Scotland – came into effect on 26th March 2006 by The Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005 and the Prohibition of Smoking in Certain Premises (Scotland) Regulations 2006  
  • Wales – came into effect on Monday 2nd April 2007 by the Smoke-free Premises (Wales) Regulations 2007


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