Companies throughout the country have revealed a range of initiatives and issues as they prepare for the July 1 ban in England, now just a month away.
During a meeting of the South West and Wales region of ACFO, the fleet managers’ association, a key concern raised by managers was how to deal with drivers who had opted out of company cars and taken cash instead.
One fleet manager felt that his firm should ban smoking in all cars funded by the company, covering both company cars and cars bought through cash for car schemes. This reflected both safety and legal concerns about the approaching ban.
Andrew Marquand, assistant managing director of Premiere Products, which has a fleet of 80 vehicles, said: “We have issued stickers to all drivers and asked them to put them on the windscreen and on the dashboard.
“Although these cars are allocated to individuals and are not directly affected by the ban, we decided to simply rule out smoking in all vehicles because of safety and smoke damage.”
However, he reported that one driver said that his vehicle was his private car and insisted he would smoke in it if he wanted.
According to Marquand the company prides itself on its reputation for handing back clean vehicles to its leasing supplier, so the ban made sense.
Damian James, regional ACFO chairman and head of transport for Bracknell Forest Borough Council, agreed: “We have said that if employees are driving on company business, they are not allowed to smoke.”
But the ban on smoking raised concerns about whether companies should introduce further bans, especially to avoid driver distraction. One member said: “Why doesn’t the government just say people should do nothing but drive while driving? Eating is just as distracting.”
Delegates at the North East regional meeting of ACFO also said they were introducing blanket bans.
Fleet managers wanting full details of the ban can visit www.smokefreeengland.co.uk
BMW is one of a number of manufacturers that has had stringent smoking bans for many years to protect residual values.
Drivers of its company cars are warned that smoking in vehicles is an act of gross misconduct and can theoretically lead to disciplinary action. In addition, drivers have been warned they could face a fine of up to 2.5% of the value of the car to reflect the damage that smoking can cause to the vehicle’s worth on the used-car market.
A spokesman for BMW said: “Every returning company car is checked for damage ready for refurbishment and subsequent resale.
“Each vehicle receives a points score and provided the points score is within the range of normal wear and tear (BVRLA rules or equivalent) no further action is taken.
“Two further categories are assessed on the points system as ‘poor’ (Fail 1) and ‘abuse/neglect’ (Fail 2). A ‘poor’ rating leads to a charge to the employee of 1% of the car’s value, while an ‘abuse/neglect’ condition attracts a charge of 2.5%.
“Evidence of smoking in a car is an automatic Fail 2 and therefore immediately leads to a 2.5% employee charge. It may also lead to disciplinary action.”