MPs voted in the House of Commons last night to ban workplace smoking from summer 2007 as part of the Health Bill.
Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said the new bill would ban smoking in ‘virtually every enclosed public space and workplace in England’.
'We estimate an additional 600,000 people will give up smoking as a result of this law and millions more will be protected from second-hand smoking,' she said.
Smoking will still be allowed in the home and in places considered to be homes such as prisons, care homes and hotels. No decision has yet been made on whether smoking will be banned in cars carrying passengers.
Failure to enforce the ban will carry a fine of £2,500. Individuals lighting up in banned areas will face fixed penalties of £50.
Meanwhile Scottish fleets are being warned a smoking ban becoming law in the country from next month will affect van drivers.
But companies north of the border say the forthcoming legislation banning smoking in public places has created a fog of confusion over which fleets are affected.
Those still unsure how the ban will work are urged to contact the Scottish Executive for guidance.
Starting in March, it will become illegal in Scotland to light up in public places such as bars, restaurants and other enclosed spaces.
Officials at the Scottish Executive confirmed this week that the ban would not apply to company cars, but that vans will be affected, even if they were not based in the country.
The Scottish Executive has launched a website to answer any questions, with specific advice on company cars and vans – www.clearingtheairscotland.com.
When Ireland introduced a similar ban two years ago, company cars were classed as a place of work and were affected.
A spokesman for the Scottish Executive said: ‘The ban affects all vans. If you drive from London into Scotland, then you are affected by the ban. There won’t be an environmental health officer waiting for you at the border, but if you smoke, you are contravening the law.’
Website gives smoking advice
On its website, the Scottish Executive attempts to clear up confusion in a question and answer session over which vehicles are affected by a smoking ban.
It says: What about vehicles used for business purposes?
Light goods and heavy goods vehicles and public transportation vehicles (eg taxis, buses, trains and ferries) will be affected by the new law. If you use a car (your own or company car) for business purposes, it will be exempt unless you are using it as a private taxi.