Legal advice

Staying clear on smoking rules

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Staying clear on smoking rules

Related tags: Premises, Smoking

All manner of pub-related topics were discussed by the various political parties in the run-up to the General Election but of particular interest was UKIP’s proposal to amend the smoking ban to allow pubs to introduce smoking rooms.

Research has shown the smoking ban had a major effect on the pub trade and support at one post-election debate regarding smoking rooms was strong, although it’s unlikely that they’ll be introduced in the near future.

Here are our top tips for ensuring you stay on the right side of the law and your licence conditions:

1.​ Consider any conditions on your premises licence which may affect the area where your customers choose to smoke. Conditions such as beer gardens being cleared of customers after a certain time of the evening may mean your usual smoking area is out of action earlier than your premises close and you may have to make alternative arrangements. Also, look out for any conditions which restrict entry to your premises after a defined time.

Unless the condition makes specific provision for re-entry of smokers, you may have to turn those customers away to
prevent a breach of your premises licence conditions.

2.​ Ensure you display at least one legible sign at your premises informing customers and staff that they must not smoke on the premises. Since 2012, the regulations have been relaxed and now allow owners or occupiers of premises to determine the type of signs to display, however failure to do so can result in a fine of up to £1,000.

3.​ If you do decide to designate an area for your smokers or perhaps provide a smoking shelter, you will need to ensure that the smoking shelter is not ‘enclosed’ or ‘substantially enclosed’. An enclosed premises or structure is defined as being a premises/structure with a ceiling or roof and, except for doors, windows or passageways, are wholly enclosed either permanently or temporarily.

Substantially enclosed premises or structures are those which have a ceiling or a roof but have an opening in the walls or an aggregate of openings in the walls which is less than half of the area of the walls, including other structures that serve the purpose of walls and constitute the perimeter of the premises. In simpler terms, the test is whether the premises or structure is more than 50% enclosed.

4​. The location of your smokers is all important. You will need to account for your smoking area within your fire risk assessment as this risk assessment requires you to identify all forms of fuel and ignition — including smokers. Also consider whether you have any residents close by. Smokers have the potential to cause noise nuisance, particularly later in the evening, if they are talking immediately outside your neighbour’s property.

5​. Finally, if you are installing a smoking shelter, consider whether a planning application will be required. It is a good idea to speak to your local planning authority before commencing any work.

Follow these tips and be vigilant for customers failing to obey the law.

You could be subject to a fine of up to £2,500 if a customer breaks the law while in your premises and your customer could be issued with a fixed-penalty notice of £50.

Related topics: Licensing law

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