Smokefree Legislation

No smoking sign

Smoking isn’t allowed in any enclosed workplace, public building or on public transport in the UK.

This includes pubs, restaurants, shopping centres and also public vehicles, i.e. buses, taxis and trains, along with work vehicles.

Legislation and guidance

Main offences

The Health Act 2006 and Regulations made under the Act provide for four main offences. These are:

  • Permitting others to smoke in a smokefree premises
  • Smoking in no smokefree premises
  • Failing to display a warning notice in a smokefree premises
  • Obstruction or failing to give information/assistance to an authorised officer


The Smoke-free (Signs) Regulations 2012 require premises to have at least one legible smokefree sign displayed in smokefree premises and vehicles compared to at each entrance. No action is required if you have already complied previously with The Smoke-free (Signs) Regulations 2007.

If you require smokefree signage you can download it from the Smokefree England website.  


There are a limited number of exemptions under the Smoke-free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006.

Further guidance and downloads are available from Smokefree England.


Authorised officers may carry out a number of different types of inspection in relation to smoking controls. These inspections determine whether owners, occupiers, managers or persons in control of the premises have taken all reasonable precautions to avoid people smoking.

Authorised officers work closely with businesses as well as building compliance with legislation through education, advice and presentations. Formal enforcement action is taken only when the seriousness of the situation warrants it. Any enforcement action undertaken will be fair, proportional and consistent in line with our Smokefree Enforcement Policy July 2007 [pdf] 91KB. Please note this policy is due for review.

Enforcement action may be considered against individuals smoking in smokefree premises (including vehicles) where the owner, occupier, manager or other person in charge can demonstrate that they have taken all reasonable steps against these individuals smoking on their premises.

Fixed Penalty Notices/Prosecution

Some offences in the Health Act 2006 can lead to prosecution. This may be particularly relevant for repeat offences or where a person wilfully ignores the law.

Further information on the factors that are taken into consideration are provided within our Smokefree Enforcement Policy July 2007.

The Act also provides for an authorised officer to issue fixed penalty notices in certain circumstances.

A fixed penalty notice may be issued when

  • An offence has been identified and informal advice or an advisory letter has been issued and ignored
  • Where there appears to have been blatant or systematic non compliance

A fixed penalty notice may be issued at the time or at a later date. Individuals can discharge any liability to conviction by payment of a fixed penalty. If the alleged offender refuses to pay, or chooses to do so, the matter will be referred for a court hearing.

Smoking in vehicles

Under The Smoke-free (Private Vehicles) Regulations 2015, it is illegal to smoke in a car (or other vehicle) if any of the occupants are under the age of 18. This is to protect children and young people from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Further information can be found on the website.

Want to stop smoking?

To find out how the NHS can help you stop smoking, call the local NHS stop smoking service on 0800 0224332 or visit the NHS Stop Smoking Service website.

Contact us

Email the Environmental Health team.