What are the restrictions on smoking at work?

Legal restrictions on smoking in the workplace and in public places have been in place since 2007.

In England, legislation came about through the Health Act 2006, which effectively bans smoking in all enclosed workplaces and public places, with some narrow exemptions. The regulations include a new offence of smoking in a smoke-free place.

The smoke-free rules cover not only tobacco in cigarettes, pipes and cigars but also herbal tobacco. These are all prohibited when lit, even if the person is not smoking at the time. So wandering through the workplace with a lit cigarette is an offence.

Smoking is not permitted in any workplaces or public places which are 'enclosed' or 'substantially enclosed'. This means premises that have a ceiling or walls at least half the way around, including doors and windows. The regulations also cover work vehicles, although there is an exemption for vehicles that are only ever used by one person with no passengers.

It does not cover a worker's own vehicle unless it is being used for hire or as a work vehicle by more than one person.

Smoking in cars carrying children has been illegal since 2015. The measure criminalises smoking by parents, carers or other adults in a car carrying anyone under 18.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.