Here are some tips to ensure that your smoking areas or shelters are legal and that customers smoking outside do not represent a threat to your premises licence:
- If you are intending to install a smoking shelter, speak to your local planning authority before doing so. Many structures will require planning permission and need to comply with building regulations.
- You will need to make sure that your fire risk assessment takes account of any smoking area or smoking shelter. As part of the assessment, you are required to identify all forms of fuel and ignition (this would include smokers) and the measures that have been adopted to control these.
- Carefully consider the location of your smoking area or shelter. If your premises is near residential properties or businesses, it is likely those using the smoking area would create noise that impacts on those living or working nearby. Consider locating the smoking area as far away from any neighbouring properties as possible. You could instruct a member of staff or doorstaff to monitor the area, particularly in the evenings, to ensure noise is controlled.
- You should also consider how your customers will get to and from the smoking shelter, as the increased use of external doors to get to and from the smoking area can increase noise escape and potentially cause a nuisance to neighbours. An ‘acoustic lobby’ featuring an extra set of doors can help keep noise to a minimum when external doors are opened.
- If you are installing a smoking shelter, ensure it is not ‘enclosed’ or ‘substantially enclosed’. The smoke-free legislation prohibits smoking within these types of structures or buildings. Premises are considered to be ‘substantially enclosed’ if they have a ceiling or roof but the openings in the walls are less than 50% of the total walled or enclosed area. No-smoking signs will need to be displayed in areas where smoking is not permitted.
- It is important to ensure that your customers are not allowed to smoke in any smoke-free areas. If they light up in such a space, you could be subject to a fine of up to £2,500 with the customer being issued with a fixed-penalty notice of £50.
Finally, excessive noise or incidents within your smoking area could result in a review of your premises licence.
It is, therefore, important to make certain that the area is properly monitored and controlled, particularly during busier periods.