The Scottish Executive has published a guide to help employers and business owners implement the new smoke free legislation that comes into force in March next year.  The guide emphasises that, despite media focus on banning smoking in pubs, the ban will affect most businesses in the country.

The Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005 received Royal Assent on 5 August 2005.  This means that Scotland will be the first part of the UK to become completely smoke-free in all enclosed public places from 6am on 26 March 2006.  The Executive hopes that the country’s health and productivity will increase as a result of reducing the harmful effects of passive smoking.  The law requires all enclosed public places to be smoke-free, meaning that staff, customers and visitors will not be allowed to smoke in the enclosed areas of any business premises. 

The guide is intended to make sure every business and public place classed as 'no smoking' under the new law is ready when the ban comes into effect, and includes advice on checks, penalties and employer responsibilities.

The guidance will be followed up with more specific advice to local authorities, the NHS and other care service providers about the development of no-smoking policies for staff and those who use their services. This will include those care sector premises exempted under the legislation, who may designate 'smoking rooms'. The aim will be to ensure that no one is unnecessarily exposed to second-hand smoke. There is no obligation on proprietors exempted under the new law to provide designated areas for smoking. If they do so, they should be working towards a smoke-free policy for the future.

Local Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) will work with businesses to support and assist them to comply with the law.  They will also enforce the new law and have powers to allocate fixed penalty fines to employers and members of the public who breach the legislation.

The fines are £200 for permitting others to smoke in no-smoking premises; £50 for smoking in no-smoking premises; and £200 for not conspicuously displaying warning notices in no-smoking premises. 

Enforcement guidance is being drawn up in conjunction with COSLA, the Royal Environmental Health Institute for Scotland (REHIS), the police and Crown Office to try to ensure consistency of approach to enforcement throughout Scotland.

The guidance and further information on the smoking ban is available here: http://www.clearingtheairscotland.com/faqs/guidance.html.

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