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No smoking sign

The smoking ban

Like it or not, smoking is now banned in all public indoor spaces in the UK.

When the smoking ban came into effect in England on 1 July 2007, the whole of the United Kingdom became a smoke-free zone. Within the first year, the Department of Health says 400,000 people quit smoking.† But what are the rules and where can you go for that crafty fag?

Where is smoking banned?

Smoking in all indoor public places is banned. Many places - such as cinemas and public transport - have rarely permitted smoking in recent years, and now places like pubs, restaurants, nightclubs and private members' clubs will not be able to permit customers to smoke inside.

You also can't smoke in offices or any workplace; except if you work by yourself. You can't smoke in a company vehicle that is used by several people; even if they are not in it at the time.

Smoking is still be banned at certain outdoor locations that are 'substantially enclosed', such as football grounds and covered walkways. It is also banned on all parts of a railway station, even open-air platforms.

Where†can I†smoke?

You're still allowed to light up outdoors, in the home or places considered to be 'homes', such as prisons, care homes and hotels.

You can smoke in your own car, or a company vehicle that you alone drive.†However, you could be prosecuted if you are caught smoking whilst driving for failing to have proper control of your vehicle.

What happens if I'm caught fag-in-hand?

If you're caught smoking in a banned area you could be fined £50.

But who's really going to care if I light up a sneaky one?

Those in charge of the premises would be fools to let you get away with it, especially considering that they could face a £2,500 fine if they fail to stop you. They could also be charged on-the-spot fines of £200 if they fail to display no-smoking signs, with the penalty increasing to £1,000 if the issue goes to court.

When did the ban come into force?

This depends on the area of the UK:

  • England - July 1,†2007
    The initial plans for a partial ban in England were binned because Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt felt it was impractical and wouldn't offer enough protection from passive smoking for workers in places such as bars and clubs.
  • Scotland - March 26 2006
    It's hoped that the ban will have a very positive impact on the Scottish nation, since smoking here is attributable to a shocking one in four of all deaths.
  • Wales -†April 2,†2007
    The UK government allowed Wales to decide on its own smoking ban, despite the fact that the Welsh Assembly isn't normally given such wide-ranging powers. Wales was actually the first part of the UK to vote for a full smoking ban.
  • Northern Ireland - April 30, 2007
    Three years after the Republic of Ireland's total ban, Northern Ireland followed suit. "No-one has a right to subject colleagues and workmates to the dangers and hazards of second-hand smoke," said Northern Ireland Minister Shaun Woodward.

Updated: 15/10/2008

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