Fleet News

Fleet chaos on smoking ban

THE forthcoming workplace smoking ban has thrown the fleet industry into chaos, with many executives unsure how it affects them and what they should tell their drivers.

Dozens of fleet managers have contacted Fleet News with a host of enquiries ranging from when the ban on smoking in public places and workplaces is enforced, the rules for private vehicles and what rules apply to vehicles driven between different countries.

It follows publication of a feature in Fleet News last week on the ban and how it affects England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Tony Leigh, fleet manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers and company secretary of fleet operators’ association ACFO, described the situation as ‘ludicrous’.

He said: ‘People are confused, particularly in relation to business use of private vehicles, and the different regulations in different countries at different times.

‘I wish someone from the government would give some advice that categorically states what you have to do – we’re all rolling in a barrel full of treacle, not knowing what to do.’

Bob Worthylake, fleet manager of Royal Parks Agency, said: ‘The regulations are quite confusing – you have to read them quite a few times to make head or tail of them.

‘I think a lot of fleet managers are having headaches over this.’

Julia Faulkner, an HR administrator responsible for writing the company car policy for Burton Foods, said: ‘We haven’t really seen too much guidance.

‘Looking on the internet hasn’t really been much help. There should be more clarification from the government, the last thing we want to do is fall foul of the law. We need to know everything 100%.’

Vicky Bennett, head of employment at law firm Heatons, said many firms were unprepared for the changes adding: ‘Slapping a company-wide ban on smoking on July 1 is a recipe for disaster.

‘It will be impossible to manage at the last minute. Businesses must put in place a strategy now to ensure they are fully prepared for the impact.’

It is not just fleets that are confused about what the law means. Two inquiries from Fleet News to the government’s campaign group Smokefree England produced different answers on the question of whether the ban affected private vehicles used for company business.

The first spokesman Fleet News spoke to said the details had yet to be decided, but the second gave the correct answer that private vehicles were exempt unless another employee was in the car, in which case there should be no smoking for that particular journey.

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