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Smoke free legislation


Since 1 July 2007, the Health Act 2006 requires virtually all indoor public places and workplaces, including vehicles, to be smoke free. It affects almost every business in County Durham.

Smoke free legislation:

  • reduces the risks to health from secondhand smoke
  • recognises a person's right to be protected from the harm of second hand smoke and to breathe smokefree air
  • helps people trying to give up smoking by providing supportive smoke free environments
  • will save thousands of lives over the next decade by reducing exposure to hazardous secondhand smoke and overall smoking rates

If you smoke and would like to give up, you can get help from the NHS Free Smoking Helpline or visit the Smokefree England website.

Since 1 October 2007 it's been illegal to sell tobacco products to people under the age of 18 in England and Wales. The change applies to the sale of cigarettes, cigars, tobacco for roll your own and pipes as well as rolling papers. 

The law applies to shops and also to businesses who have cigarette vending machines on their premises. 

Where can't I smoke?

Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed or 'substantially enclosed' public places and workplaces, making it an offence to:

  • smoke in smoke free premises
  • permit others to smoke in smokefree premises
  • fail to display warning signs in smoke free premises

Premises are considered to be 'substantially enclosed' if they have a ceiling or roof but there are openings in the walls which are less than half of the total area of walls. This is known as the 50% rule.

If you would like advice on smoke free issues or would like to know if any part of your business is affected by smokefree laws please contact the council's business advice unit.

What we can do

We can provide advice and information to businesses on the legal requirements, and investigate complaints relating to smoking in the workplace.

Where businesses persistently or blatantly break smokefree laws, officers from the council will issue a fixed penalty notice or take legal action against those concerned. Any action taken will be consistent with the council's enforcement policy. 

Help to stop smoking

To find out more information about the help available to stop smoking see our Tobacco and smoking page.

Contact us
Customer Services
03000 26 0000
Our address is:
  • Durham County Council
  • County Hall
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5UQ
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