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Smoking Prohibitions

It is now against the law to smoke in workplaces in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The health effects of tobacco smoke, including second-hand smoke, are well known.  Passive smoking (breathing in another person's tobacco smoke) not only causes discomfort, but can also affect a person's health. 

Similarly, smoker's materials can be attributed to many accidental fires in premises, which is historically the primary reason why many Churches and Places of Worship have already implemented a no smoking policy.

The smoking bans affect all Churches and Places of Worship and the primary action required is to display appropriate signs.


No-smoking signs need to be on display to inform people that there is a prohibition on smoking on the premises.  There is no exemption for Churches and Places of Worship or listed buildings of any grade or category.

The rules vary throughout the different regions about the exact size and location of these signs, but in general the signs always include the internationally recognised 'no smoking' symbol. 

The signs have to be situated where they can be seen, often in the entrance area, and might need to include certain text or wording that has been set out in the legislation (such as in Wales, the text is in both the English and Welsh languages).

Prohibition sign The internationally recognised "no smoking" sign must be on display.

It is also likely to be beneficial to display additional signs as reminders in other some areas of the building, including where people might find an opportunity to smoke undetected such as toilets and store cupboards.  This is especially critical where flammable materials are stored or places where smoking may be seen as "permitted".


Even when people have seen the signs, someone might choose to ignore the bans and smoke in an area that is not suitable.  It would be common for people to use spaces such as storage cupboards and other hidden places, along with toilets - in fact anywhere where they believe they will not be caught. 

It is a good idea to inspect these areas regularly for signs of smoking.  The smell of smoke lingers in the air, and can be readily detected by the nose.  Also, look out for cigarette ends and ash, although there have been cases reported where smokers hide their waste in containers and holes in walls, which can lead to a fire.

For persistent problems, some companies have now designed alarm units that detect cigarette smoke and provide a warning.  Some of these units are much like a smoke alarm, but are designed to be sensitive to cigarette smoke.

It is also important to decide how to deal with people who smoke illegally.  More can be found in policy below.

Smoker's Areas and Ash Bins

Where space allows, it might be beneficial to provide a small space for smokers, such as a shelter.  Any designated smoking area should ideally be identified as being a space where smoking is allowed.

Even where a shelter is not required, or there is no space to accommodate one, it is wise to have suitable ashtrays at suitable places for people to safely dispose of their cigarette ends.  These bins should be emptied regularly to prevent fires occurring.


Many Churches and Places of Worship have had a policy of not smoking on the premises for some time, even if this was only an informal arrangement.  It might be found to be beneficial to include a written policy within, for example, the Health and Safety Policy.

Not only should the policy prohibit smoking in line with the legislation, but it would be useful to have some guidelines on dealing with people that do smoke in the building.  Initially, this might include informing someone of the no-smoking policy and politely requesting the person stops smoking or continues outside. 

The legislation makes it an offence to allow, or even 'turn a blind eye' to,  people smoking on the premises.  Employees should normally be subject to a standard disciplinary procedure if they are caught smoking, and there should be similar procedures in place for volunteers (by means of some kind of written volunteer agreement that sets out a job description and a set of basic rules).

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