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Smokefree Information Guide



Since 1st July 2007 it is against the law to smoke in virtually all enclosed public areas, workplaces and public and work vehicles. Indoor smoking rooms in virtually all public places will no longer be allowed. Managers of smokefree premises and vehicles have legal responsibilities to prevent people from smoking.

This document is designed to be a brief guide to those running licensed establishments on how to ensure their businesses comply with the smokefree regulations

Planning Considerations

Your establishment may decide to make changes to provide areas for the use of customers who smoke. This could be the erection of a shelter, the use of heaters outside or perhaps the use of outside seating. Wyre Forest District Council is here to help you to make the right choices for your business and your customers.

An outdoor structure may be desirable to provide shelter for your customers. Construction of such a structure may well have an effect on the local area and neighbouring properties. The business needs to consider the design of the structure to ensure it complies with the Smokefree legislation.

Planning permission is required for any permanent structure either attached to the building or free-standing.

For more information and advice visit our planning pages

A location/site plan - preferably at 1:1250 scale - is required when submitting an application, to enable easy identification of the property. A plan locating the extension or structure within the property boundary should be included with the plans showing the appearance and dimensions of the proposal, preferably at a scale of 1:50. The application will also need to be accompanied by a Design and Access Statement which should give consideration to how the structure complements the design of the building or garden area and how access for people with disabilities is to be provided.

Planning applications for smoking shelters and related structures normally take up to 8 weeks from the time a valid application is received.

When assessing a planning application for a shelter, awning or similar structure, the council will seek to ensure the facilities are well-designed and sited sensitively in a way that:

  • enhances the street scene;
  • protects the safety and free flow of pavement users; and
  • has no detrimental impact on the amenity of neighbouring residents.

Planning permission will normally be required for the following operations and uses:

  • Permanent external smoking shelter structures, whether freestanding or attached to existing buildings;
  • Awnings/canopies/blinds attached to buildings will almost always have a material effect on the external appearance of a building;
  • Pavement and forecourt tables and chairs sited on the public highway or a private forecourt;
  • Use of any land as a beer garden or yard, where the land does not form part of the business premises;
  • Construction of timber decking; and
  • Stub-out bins on the front of premises.

Planning permission will not be normally be required for the following operations and uses:

  • Portable freestanding awnings /canopies and space heaters; and
  • The use of beer gardens and yards where these are ancillary to the main pub/restaurant use and are lawfully part of the existing business

Such matters are likely to be considered at the planning stage of the development and therefore, close liaison with Planning officers and the Smokefree Officer is recommended.

Buying the Right Product

It is recommended that any shelter or similar structure bought is fit for the intended purpose. This means they should meet:

  • Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994;
  • A minimum of European Standard EN13561 wind resistance;
  • Electrical compliance; and
  • Building regulations Part L (which relate to heating and thermal efficiency).

We also recommend you check that ‘No Smoking’ signage meets the requirements of the new legislation before purchase.

Street Cafes

Street cafes are considered to be tables and chairs placed on the public highway, where food and drink is served. In addition to planning permission, approval will also be required from the Worcestershire County Council Highways Department. It is essential to ensure that publications for shelters do not contravene your licensing conditions on use of outside areas.

It is important to note that all new structures must comply with current health and safety regulations whilst ensuring the premises are fully accessible for disabled customers. Find useful numbers and links to assist you in any query you have.

Fire Safety

Areas of possible concern include:

  • Non-substantially enclosed structures erected to accommodate smokers (e.g. rooftop patios) not having/or preventing the means of escape to the safe assembly points located outside. Structures that prohibit or inhibit safe channelling to the assembly points would also be a cause for concern.
  • Illicit smoking in concealed places.
  • The use of heating devices which are unsafe, installed or located in an unsafe manner, and/or poorly secured will be a fire safety hazard and health and safety concern.
  • LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) storage of cylinders. Apart from the risk of fire LPG cylinders pose an asphyxiation risk. LPG vapour is denser than air and must not therefore be stored in cellars, basements or sunken locations.
  • If the use of any smoking-related equipment, structure or procedure is considered, it is the remit of the Fire Authority to audit premises’ risk assessments to ensure that these do not compromise means of escape and general fire safety. Suitable enforcement can and will result where any such issues cannot be resolved or effectively addressed through the Fire Risk Assessment.
  • Please note that the new fire safety regulations are supported by 11 guidance documents each relevant to a building use group. View fire safety law and guidance documents for business.

How to Deal with Smoking in a Smokefree Place

It is strongly recommended that owners and managers implement written policy and procedures to demonstrate their compliance with the law.

The procedures should:

  • Draw individuals' attention to the ‘No-Smoking’ signage and inform them that he/she is committing an offence by smoking and may be subsequently issued a Fixed Penalty Notice of £50. Politely ask them to stop smoking.
  • Direct them to the nearest place where they are able to smoke legally.
  • Advise the individual who is smoking that their actions could result in the person in control of the premises being prosecuted and receiving a fine of £2,500.
  • Inform the individual that he/she can be refused service.
  • Advise any individual continuing to smoke that he/she will be asked to leave the premises.
  • Detail that normal procedures will be implemented for anti-social behaviour occurring on the premises if any customer refuses to leave the premises when requested to do so.
  • Require accurate written records of all such incidents and outcomes to be maintained.
  • Note that if any individual threatens physical violence, the owner/manager will notify and/or seek assistance from the police.

The policy should identify members of management and/or staff who have responsibility for its implementation and review.


Issues to be considered will include:

  • Litter accumulation in or near entrances to buildings or blowing onto or impinging on public areas from non-substantially enclosed structures erected to accommodate smokers.
  • The possible increase in cigarette butts and other litter deposited on footpaths and other public areas in the vicinity of establishments in which smoking is prohibited.

We would advise:

  • The provision of special bins, with compartments for smoking related litter, placed at locations where problems are expected.

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 makes it an offence to drop and leave litter. This includes smoking-related materials such as the discarded ends of cigarettes, cigars and the discarded remains of chewing gum and bubble gum.

Section 88 of the EPA 1990 allows authorised officers of Councils to issue Fixed Penalty Notices for litter offences (currently £75).

Sections 93 and 94 of the 1990 Act enables councils to serve Street Litter Control Notices requiring businesses to clear up the litter and implement measures to prevent the land from becoming defaced again.


Issues to be considered will include:

  • Members of the public congregating outside buildings but remaining within the premises boundary (i.e. in structures made specifically to accommodate smokers e.g. roof patios, lean-to constructions, hut-like structures and shelters, etc.).
  • Members of the public congregating on the public footpaths or areas outside of the premises boundary will be dealt with using the Licensing Act 2003 and/or by police action.
  • Owners of premises  playing musical equipment or speakers (radios, speakers, CD players, TVs etc.) for the enjoyment of their customers, in non-substantially enclosed premises provided for smokers. Actions such as these may affect your licence.

Advertisement Consent

If a business is proposing to provide new external signs, for example, to direct customers to smoking shelters, the business may need to make a separate application for advertisement consent.

The main concerns in deciding whether to grant consent will be:

  • Highway safety – for example, would the sign cause obstruction to pedestrians or traffic.
  • Amenity – for example, would the sign be visually obtrusive, particularly in a conservation area or on a listed building, or add to advertisement clutter.

Smokefree FAQs

Q. Can I have a designated smoking room in my premises?
A. No. If you own premises that the public can access or which more than one person works in then all enclosed and substantially enclosed areas must be smokefree. This essentially means that all indoor areas must be smokefree. The only exemptions to this rule are living quarters in hostels, and nursing homes in which a smoking room can be designated, and in hotel bedrooms.

Q. Is it true you cannot smoke in any public place including parks and on the high street?
A. No. You can still smoke outside, the new smokefree legislation covers ‘Enclosed’ and ‘Substantially Enclosed’ workplaces and public places, in other words places that are essentially indoors.

Q. What is an 'enclosed' or 'substantially enclosed' premises?
A. Premises are considered 'enclosed' if they have a ceiling or roof and (except for doors, windows or passageways) are wholly enclosed either on a permanent or temporary basis. Premises are considered 'substantially enclosed' if they have a ceiling or roof, but have an opening in the walls, which is less than half the total areas of the walls. the area of the opening does not include doors, windows or any other fittings that can be opened or shut.

Q. Do I have to provide external shelters or other smoking facilities for my workforce?
A. No. Employers are not obliged to provide smoking shelters for their staff. However, employers do have an obligation to control the amount of litter and noise which could result from staff/members of the public congregating outside.

Q. I don’t smoke cigarettes or tobacco so the law won’t affect me!
A. Wrong. The smokefree law makes it an offence to smoke any substance in an enclosed or substantially enclosed workplace or public place, not just tobacco. It is also an offence to hold a lit cigarette of any kind in a smokefree place.

Q. My business is already smokefree so the new law won’t affect me
A. All businesses must display the correct signage at all public and staff entrances to the premises. The law makes it an offence to fail to display these signs, with a fixed penalty of £200. Download signs FREE OF CHARGE.

Q. I can’t stop people from smoking in my premises if they don’t want to.

A. The new laws make the manager on duty responsible for ensuring all enclosed and substantially enclosed work places and public places are smokefree. Failure to do so can result in a fine of up to £2,500.

Q. I have been told that it will be illegal to smoke within 15 metres of a place of work or a public building, could you please tell me is this fact or a myth, as I have been unable to find an answer on government websites or literature?
A. The answer is that as far as the law is concerned only areas substantially enclosed (i.e. with a roof and more than 50% walls) must be smokefree. However, an individual company may wish to ban smoking elsewhere on their premises as part of their company policy.

Useful Links

Page Information
This page was last reviewed 1 October 2013 at 12:11 by Helen Ramsay.
The page is next due for review 30 March 2014.
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