Smokefree workplaces

Smokefree Workplaces

We successfully campaigned for and end to smoking in workplaces and enclosed public places in the UK.

People are no longer exposed to cigarette smoke in public places and where they work, and research has shown that fewer people now allow smoking in their own homes.

Why we campaigned

Second-hand smoke contains many toxic chemicals and exposure at work caused over 600 deaths each year across the UK, including the death of one hospitality worker a week.

It was estimated that non-smokers, exposed to smoke in the workplace, increased their lung cancer and heart disease risk by approximately 25%.

Despite these health risks, 8% of the British workforce worked in places with no restrictions on smoking, and 38% worked in places where smoking was allowed in designated areas.

How we made it happen

In November 2004, the Government published a white paper on public health, proposing to end smoking in workplaces and public places, except for private clubs and for pubs that did not serve food.

Over 20,000 of our supporters emailed their MPs and signed a petition asking them to end smoking in all workplaces and enclosed public spaces.

In 2006, smokefree workplaces, commonly referred to as 'the smoking ban', became law.

What we achieved

  • Forming part of the Health Act 2006, smoking was banned in all workplaces and enclosed public places in England
  • Pubs and employers had to comply with the new laws from July 2007
  • This followed the introduction of a similar law in Scotland (2006) and in Wales and Northern Ireland (April 2007)

The introduction of smokefree laws will save lives and mean that more people are aware of the dangers of smoking. Since the smoking ban there has been a reduction in admissions to hospital for heart attacks, and UK smoking rates in adults and children have fallen.

More information

Download the second-hand smoking factsheet from ASH (PDF, 220KB) or visit the Department of Health website.
Read our healthy living pages for more on tobacco.
More information on the smokefree legislation on the ASH website

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