What are the exemptions to the workplace smoking ban?

There are some exemptions under the new regulations. These mainly relate to situations where a person's workplace is also their, or someone else's, home.

This includes residential homes, long-term residential mental health units, prisons, offshore platforms and hospices. Although smoking is allowed in either a bedroom or a designated smoking room, there are strict conditions. The exemptions relate to residents and their guests only and workers will not be able to smoke on the premises (except off-shore platforms).

To gain these exemptions, the rooms have to be designated in writing by the person in charge of the premises as rooms where smoking is permitted. The rooms must not have a ventilation system which vents into other parts of the premises.

After repeated calls by the Prison Officers Association for all prisons to be smoke-free workplaces, all prisons in Wales have been operating a smoke-free policy since January 2016, and since March 2016, four English prisons – Exeter, Channings Wood, Dartmoor and Erlestoke – have also become smoke-free. As of August 2017, it is expected that the ban will be extended to all high security prisons in England.

Pressure is mounting for the ban to be extended to prisons in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

There are also exemptions for theatre and film performances (where smoking is necessary for 'artistic' reasons), some research and testing facilities and specialist tobacconists. Some of these restrictions vary in Scotland.

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.