Smoking policies

Smoking is now banned in virtually all enclosed public places and workplaces in the UK. You need to install no-smoking signs in smokefree premises and company vehicles. These can be downloaded or ordered for free. You can download free signage that complies with smokefree legislation in Northern Ireland on the Space to Breathe website.

You also need to make sure as much as is reasonably possible that employees and customers keep to the rules.

Drawing up a smokefree policy has clear benefits, including:

  • a healthier workforce
  • reduced disputes between smokers and non-smokers
  • cleaner premises
  • a better image
  • increased compliance with your health and safety responsibilities

As an employer you have a general duty to protect, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of your employees. This includes any risks arising from exposure to second-hand smoke. You should prioritise the health needs of non-smoking staff. These duties will continue to apply in exempted premises. Read about the smoking ban in Northern Ireland on the Space to Breathe website.

What your smokefree policy should cover

  • Acknowledge the right of your employees to work in a smokefree environment.
  • Identify the members of management and staff who have the responsibility for implementing the policy.
  • Identify the outside areas where people can smoke, but ensure those areas are not enclosed.
  • Provide information on how to obtain help to quit smoking.
  • Set out the means of communicating your policy to all members of your staff (including new employees before they start work) and to members of the public using your premises and vehicles.
  • Set out the means of communicating to your staff and customers where they can smoke if they want to.

You will need to decide how to deal with non-compliance with your smokefree policy and how the policy fits within your existing health and safety and discipline policies.

Download a sample policy for workplace drugs and alcohol (PDF, 114K).

Adapt your policy to fit your business’ needs. For example, if you employ plumbers and decorators you might want to prohibit smoking anywhere on customers’ premises. This helps maintain your image and reputation as a responsible, professional business.