A survey of 1,141 companies by the Department of Health found 44% did not know that the legislation, coming into force from July 1, affects business cars and vans used by more than one person.
The news comes as the Local Authority Road Safety Officers’ Association (LARSOA) announced that it wants to see smoking behind the wheel stubbed out completely.
Nick Brownrigg, chief executive officer of Masterlease, said businesses were confused about the impact of the smoking ban.
“The rules that are being introduced by the government in England are considerably different to those in Scotland – leading to massive confusion for all cross-border businesses.
“With fines of up to £2,500 for employers who fail to enforce the ban, this is an issue that businesses need to act on now.”
Public health minister Caroline Flint said: “The countdown is now well underway until England goes smoke-free. All businesses need to know exactly what they need to do before July 1.
“Guidance is now available to download and is currently being mailed directly to businesses. We are confident that by working together everyone should be ready in time.”
Meanwhile council road safety experts called for all vehicles to be smoke-free. Simon Ettinghausen of LARSOA said: “Anything you do in the car is a distraction, whether it’s eating, drinking, using a mobile phone or smoking. But smoking in particular can be very dangerous.
“If you drop a lit cigarette, your concentration on driving will immediately vanish.”
But Paul Smith, founder of road safety organisation SafeSpeed, said: “I’m amazed that LARSOA should propose such a thing – it shows the tragic state of road safety in the UK.
“Smoking at the wheel isn’t a known cause of crashes – the risk is purely theoretical. The problem with chasing theoretical risks is that life-saving resources are taken away from real risks.”