The Smoke-free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006 will come into force on 1 July 2007 making all enclosed public places and workplaces smoke free. The Health Act 2006 designates premises as smoke free if they are open to the public. Premises must also be smoke free all the time if they are used as a place of work by more than one person or where members of the public might attend to buy goods or services. However, premises must be smoke free only in those areas which are “enclosed” or “substantially enclosed”.

Regulation 2 of the Smoke-free regulations defines ‘enclosed’ and ‘substantially enclosed.’ Premises are enclosed if they have a ceiling or roof and, except for doors, windows and passageways, are wholly enclosed either permanently or temporarily. Premises are substantially enclosed if they have a ceiling or roof but there is an opening in the walls or an aggregate area of openings in the walls which is less than half the area of the walls. The ban will therefore include offices, bars, restaurants, pubs, shops, public transport, private members clubs and workplace smoking rooms. Anybody wishing to smoke will have to smoke outside the premises. The smoke free legislation will be enforced by a number of bodies, as defined in Regulation 3, including district councils.

Draft Smoke free (Signs) regulations 2007 have also been published which are also expected to come into force on 1 July 2007. These require smoke free premises to display an A5 sign with a no smoking symbol, in a prominent position that states “No smoking. It is against the law to smoke in these premises.” Further regulations are expected to be published in 2007 which will cover exemptions and vehicles; penalties and discounted amounts; offences in vehicles and fixed penalty notices.

The government announced a further anti-smoking move in January. The legal age for buying tobacco will be raised from 16 to 18 years on 1 October 2007.