The laws on smoking in vehicles used for work

14th Dec
smoking in vehicles

If you work as a driver, then you may think that your vehicle is not a ‘public place’, and that you are therefore free to smoke as you wish. However, things may not be quite as simple as that.

One of the most important things to consider is whether anyone else could potentially use the vehicle at any time. Even if you are on your own in the vehicle, if it could then be driven by another employee or contractor at a later time, then you can’t smoke in the vehicle. The same applies if you could potentially have any passengers at any time. You need to remember that your vehicle is a place of work, and that smoking in the workplace has been banned in the UK since 2006.

So, for example, if a lorry or a van is used by two people, one of whom smokes and the other doesn’t, it is covered by the ban – you can’t smoke in the vehicle. If a vehicle is used by two or more people, all of whom smoke, then the ban still applies.

Opening the windows, door or sunroof before smoking does not allow you to get around the ban – an exemption only applies if you are able to completely remove the vehicle’s roof before lighting up.

All company vehicles which are covered by the ban must display a no-smoking sign that is at least 70mm in diameter.

The law does not expressly forbid the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace. However, before deciding to ‘vape’ in your vehicle, make sure you are totally clear what the company’s policy is regarding this. Your employer, or any other company that engages you to drive for them, may have their own rules which ban the use of e-cigarettes.

Even if you are the only person who might use a particular vehicle, you should still check first with the company to see if they impose any restrictions on smoking.

Many companies have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to smoking. You really don’t want to be caught out when someone detects the smell of tobacco in a vehicle you have been driving.

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