The law changed back in 2007 and it is now against the law to smoke in virtually all public places and workplaces.
As an employer, there is no legal requirement for you to provide designated external areas for outdoor smoking shelters for your staff. However, if you have provided a smoking shelter, you will need to ensure that it complies with the law, in that it is not “enclosed” or “substantially enclosed”.
A smoking shelter will be considered ‘enclosed’ if it has a ceiling or roof, and except for doors, windows and passageways, is wholly enclosed, either on a permanent or temporary basis.
A smoking shelter will be considered to be ‘substantially enclosed’ if it has a ceiling or roof, but there are openings in the walls that are less than half of the total area of walls something to note (“walls” can mean other structures which serve the purpose of walls and constitute the perimeter of the premises). When determining the area of an opening, no account can be taken of openings in which doors, windows or other fittings can be opened or shut.
Therefore if you intend to provide a smoking shelter you must ensure that it is at least 50% open sided, not including any windows or doors.
Some other considerations that are required are:
The use of outdoor areas or smoking shelters may result in increased littering. You should therefore;
• Provide external bins, ash trays or stubbing bins for cigarette ends – and empty them regularly
• Sweep up any cigarette ends and other litter regularly
• Make your staff aware that it is a legal offence to drop litter and ask them to use the bins provided.
Sites and premises open or working early in the morning or late at night will need to consider the potential noise impact on nearby properties, of patrons or employees congregating outside to smoke.
Health and Safety
You should also consider the health and safety implications of the use of outdoor areas and smoking shelters, including;
• Ensuring that there is safe access and exit to and from your smoking shelter/outdoor area
• You must ensure that you have agreed fire arrangements that cover the use of the smoking shelter or outdoor area.
I hope this helps and may have made you rethink multiple smoking shelters, as it has done for one of our clients recently.