General information

What does the smokefree law require?

Virtually all enclosed public places and workplaces are now required to be smokefree. This means: It is an offence to smoke in smokefree premises or vehicles. It is an offence for those who control or manage smokefree premises or vehicles to permit others to smoke in the premises or vehicle It is an offence for people who occupy or manage smokefree premises or vehicles to not display the required no-smoking signs at the premises or within the vehicle


What sort of smoking does the smokefree legislation cover?

The legislation covers the smoking of tobacco or anything that contains tobacco, or smoking any other substance, including manufactured cigarettes, hand-rolled cigarettes, pipes and cigars. This means that anything that is smoked is covered by smokefree legislation, including manufactured and hand-rolled cigarettes, pipes, cigars, herbal cigarettes and water pipes (including shisha, hookah and hubble-bubble pipes).


Some people say that smoking is banned outdoors, like in the streets outside of pubs.

Smokefree legislation covers enclosed and substantially enclosed public places and workplaces. The Health Act 2006 also includes powers to make non-enclosed places smokefree if there is "significant risk that, without designation, persons present there would be exposed to significant quantities of smoke". At present, the Government does not intend to make any non-enclosed place smokefree. The Government is not taking away people's choice to smoke, but recognises that exposing others to secondhand smoke, especially within enclosed environments, is seriously harmful to health.


What is the definition of 'enclosed' and 'substantially enclosed'?

The Health Act 2006 sets out that premises that are open to the public, or are used as a place of work (by more than one person or where members of the public might attend to receive or provide goods or services) are to be smokefree in areas that are enclosed or substantially enclosed.

Enclosed - Premises will be considered to be enclosed if they have a ceiling or roof and, except for doors, windows or passageways, are wholly enclosed, whether on a permanent or temporary basis. Tents, marquees and similar structures will also be classified as enclosed premises if they fall within this definition.

Substantially Enclosed - Premises are substantially enclosed if they have a ceiling or roof, but there are permanent openings in the walls which are less than half of the total areas of walls, including other structures which serve the purpose of walls and constitute the perimeter of premises. This is known as the 50 per cent rule.

When determining the area of an opening, no account can be taken of openings in which doors, windows or other fittings that can be open or shut.
A roof includes any fixed or movable structures, such as canvas awnings.


Why are ventilated smoking rooms not an alternative?

Evidence shows that ventilation does not provide a solution to eliminating the health risks associated with secondhand smoke. Scientists have shown that to remove the risks of secondhand smoke, an enclosed premises would need wind tunnel-like rates of ventilation, which would then make smoking nearly impossible. You can read more about this in the joint 2003 report from the Health and Safety Authority and the Office of Tobacco Control in the Republic of Ireland titled The Health Effects of Environmental Tobacco Smoke in the Workplace.


How will smokefree legislation impact on the hospitality industry?

There is international evidence from countries that have introduced legislation for smokefree public places and workplaces that the overall impact of smokefree legislation on the hospitality industry is not detrimental. The Department of Health addressed the impacts of smokefree legislation in the Regulatory Impact Assessment that was published within Smokefree Premises and Vehicles: Consultation on proposed regulations to be made under powers in the Health Bill.

Importantly, smokefree legislation will be good for the health of hospitality workers and patrons. In June 2006, The British Institute of Innkeeping's magazine said that:

"...we are talking about banning the use of a carcinogenic substance which in enclosed spaces kills or damages the health of passive smokers - that means licensees and bar staff and customers. This is a scientific fact, and we should bear this in mind along with the economic arguments"


What support is available for people deciding to quit smoking?

The NHS provides a wide range of excellent and easily accessible smoking cessation services including; local NHS Stop Smoking Services, The Together Programme, and Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) available on prescription. Business owners, employers and individuals are encouraged to contact the local NHS if they would like advice on supporting staff who would like to quit. Call NHS Smoking Helpline on 0800 169 0169, or visit the NHS website.


Has the introduction of smokefree legislation been successful in other countries?

Across the world, as the evidence of the risks associated with secondhand smoke exposure has accumulated, action has been taken to reduce people's exposure to secondhand smoke.

Ireland (2004), Norway (2004), Scotland (2006), New Zealand (2004),  various Canadian territories and  Australian states are examples of places which have introduced comprehensive smokefree legislation (including smokefree pubs, bars and restaurants).

In America, California has had state-wide smokefree public places since 1998 and New York City passed smokefree legislation in 2003. Today, over nine US states have smokefree legislation that required completely smokefree restaurants and bars.

Comprehensive smokefree legislation has proved to be effective in protecting people from the health risks of secondhand smoke. For example, research published in The Journal of the American Medical Association found rapid and significant improvement in respiratory health of bartenders after the implementation of smokefree workplace legislation in California.