Q: There has been a lot of discussion in the media recently about the banning of electronic cigarettes and I wondered if I should already be doing so in my premises.
A: There is an active debate regarding the potential health consequences of ‘vaping’ and Public Health England is currently completing its own research.
In 2007, the Health Act 2006 restricted smoking in many public spaces and places of work. The prohibition applied to the smoking of tobacco or anything which contained tobacco. The act went so far as to prevent the smoking of any substance, which included being in the possession of any other lit substance in a form in which it could be smoked. The legislation effectively caught everything from hand-rolled cigarettes to water pipes (shisha).
With the rise of the e-cigarette, the Welsh government recently confirmed that vaping is likely to be banned in enclosed public spaces and workplaces from 2017, in line with the current prohibition on tobacco. Interestingly, the Department of Health has indicated to the Publican’s Morning Advertiser that England will not follow suit.
Some operators have banned the use of e-cigarettes in their premises and various reasons have been provided for the prohibition, including the difficulty staff members have when attempting to identify whether customers are vaping or smoking tobacco.
As the law stands, you are free to say whether your premises are a vape-free zone or not.
Online betting websites
Q: I have recently discovered that a few of my customers have been using my premises Wi-Fi connection to access online betting websites. It would be difficult for me to actively police customers’ online activity and I am concerned whether or not I should be preventing this.
A: First of all don’t panic because you may not be breaking any laws and can probably continue to offer your Wi-Fi service to your customers. However, you are right to be concerned because commercial betting is not allowed in licensed premises.
If you were found to be providing betting facilities, you would be at risk of a potentially unlimited fine and/or imprisonment. Such an offence would also be relevant to the crime and disorder objective under the Licensing Act 2003 and your premises licence could be subject to a review by the licensing authority.
The good news is that your customers can use your Wi-Fi connection to connect to the internet using their mobile devices and, provided they use their own accounts to place any bets, you are not committing an offence. You should make sure you do not advertise your Wi-Fi services as a means to access betting sites because you could then be considered to be providing betting facilities.
Ensure customers do not collect betting slips from each other and take these to a betting shop because you could be considered to be facilitating betting, which is also an offence.