Exemptions to the Smoking Ban

Since Scotland became the first country in the UK to introduce the smoking ban in March 2006, all the remaining countries which constitute the UK all now have the same or very similar legislation in place with regards to the smoking ban. There are some places which are exempt however. And, although any exemptions to the smoking ban are highly likely to be the same, or very similar to, those which apply to England, all of the information contained within this article comes from guidance set out under English law which came into force on July 1, 2007. Therefore, it may be worth checking other legislation which applies to Scotland, Ireland and Wales which may differ in some way just to make sure you know your rights.

What are the Exemptions to the Smoking Ban?

There are certain designated places which, under the normal conditions of the smoking ban, it would not be permissible to smoke but where the government have made some exceptions. These include:

  • Mental health units
  • Residential care/nursing homes
  • Prisons
  • Adult hospices
  • Designated rooms in hotels

However, even within these kinds of enclosed establishments there are still strict rules surrounding where you are permitted to smoke. For example, in a prison, you would be permitted to smoke in your own cell or if you shared a cell with another smoker but you would not be allowed to smoke freely in any communal area which may be shared with non-smokers nor would you even be able to smoke in your cell if you shared it with a non-smoker.

Similarly, with all the other exemptions mentioned above, the rules are the same in that the people can only smoke within their own room or confined space and cannot smoke in any other enclosed area within the building. Hotels in particular need to be careful in this regard as the people who use hotel rooms are most likely to contain a cross-section of smokers and non-smokers over a period of time. Therefore, hotels should have designated smoke-free rooms and keep any rooms where it is permissible to smoke only for smokers and even that should be kept well ventilated to prevent Secondary Smoke affecting the health of any cleaners once the room has been vacated and needs to be cleaned.

I’m a Non-Smoker but my Work Involves Visiting People in Their Own Home. Are They Allowed to Smoke Whilst I’m Working There?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes in most cases. Anybody who visits a person’s private residence as a result of their work cannot stop the occupier from smoking. This includes people who work as care workers and other occupations such as tradesmen and women who will need to visit people in their own homes to carry out repairs or installations. Common decency should prevail here.

If you are a smoker and you receive care assistance or you’re getting a plumber in to install a new boiler, for example, it’s courtesy not to smoke whilst they are there. In fact, in some cases, when contracts are agreed, a tradesperson might stipulate that he/she will not work inside a house where a person is smoking. In the event of this, it is then up to the person living in the house to decide whether or not they can agree to this and if they do, they need to comply. However, by law, a person who lives in their own home can still smoke freely, even if a non-smoker is carrying out work or providing a service to them on their property, unless some kind of written agreement not to smoke is drawn up first and agreed by the resident. Usually common courtesy is respected here, however.

Another area where smoking is still permitted is on a theatre’s stage but only to the actor(s) involved and only if the act of smoking is crucial to the integrity of the performance. However, it’s usually only the actual performances and not rehearsals where this is permitted.

And, finally, on the subject of people’s own homes, if you work at home you are allowed to smoke – it’s your home after all – but you cannot smoke if you employ others to work from your home also, unless that’s agreed by all those who might be working from your home.

Last Updated on 25 May 2021

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