The smoking ban

Like it or not, smoking is now banned in all public indoor spaces in the UK. Here's what you need to know about where you can, and can't, light up.

girl smoking outside

Smoking was cool, now it means going out in the cold.

When the smoking ban came into effect in England on 1 July 2007, the whole of the United Kingdom became a smoke-free zone. Within the first year, the Department of Health says 400,000 people quit smoking. But what are the rules and where can you go for that crafty fag?

Where is smoking banned?

Smoking in all indoor public places is banned. Many places – such as cinemas and public transport – have rarely permitted smoking in recent years, and now places like pubs, restaurants, nightclubs and private members’ clubs will not be able to permit customers to smoke inside.

You also can’t smoke in offices or any workplace; except if you work by yourself. You can’t smoke in a company vehicle that is used by several people; even if they are not in it at the time.

Smoking is still be banned at certain outdoor locations that are ‘substantially enclosed’, such as football grounds and covered walkways. It is also banned on all parts of a railway station, even open-air platforms.

Do these rules apply to vaping?

No. At the moment the rules around where you can and cannot vape are more relaxed. However, if you live in Wales this may all change by 2017, as the Welsh Government are currently pushing to pass a law making it illegal to vape indoors.

Where can I smoke?

You’re still allowed to light up outdoors, in the home or places considered to be ‘homes’, such as prisons, care homes and hotels.

You can smoke in your own car, or a company vehicle that you alone drive. However, you could be prosecuted if you are caught smoking whilst driving for failing to have proper control of your vehicle.

What happens if I’m caught fag-in-hand?

If you’re caught smoking in a banned area you could be fined £50.

But who’s really going to care if I light up a sneaky one?

Those in charge of the premises would be fools to let you get away with it, especially considering that they could face a £2,500 fine if they fail to stop you. They could also be charged on-the-spot fines of £200 if they fail to display no-smoking signs, with the penalty increasing to £1,000 if the issue goes to court.

Can people smoke in blocks of flats?

If you’re a non-smoker, sharing flats with smokers can be frustrating. Not to mention bad for your health. But is there anything you can do about it? Unfortunately, not a huge amount as people are entitled to smoke in their own home.

  • Try and find the source of the smoke. Look for any cracks and gaps in walls and window frames and patch them up. This can make a big difference to the smoke ‘seepage’ and help your home smelling so bad.
  • Are they smoking in communal areas? Like in the corridors or on the stairs? If so, contact your landlord or managing agent as this may be breaching contract.
  • Try talking to your neighbour about it. You may be able to come to an agreement that suits both of you, and some local councils provide mediation services if things don’t go smoothly.
  • Ask about building modifications. Your landlord or managing agent may agree to building work that stops the smoke from seeping from one flat to another. Though they don’t legally have to do this.
  • If it’s really bad, consider moving. It seems drastic, we know. But if you can’t resolve things with your neighbour, sometimes it’s better for your own mental health to move somewhere different.

Next Steps

  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.


Updated on 29-Sep-2015