Smoking has been banned in public premises, including vehicles being driven for work. Most vans fall under the new rules.
All company vehicles used by more than one person, including cars, vans and trucks, should carry a no smoking ban for drivers and passengers.
A fixed penalty of £50 will hit drivers who break the law, while companies failing to display signs can be fined £200.
If employers fail to prevent smoking in a smokefree premises or vehicle, fines can reach up to £2,500. Now, experts from Monash University Accident Research Centre in Australia have identified that smoking while driving is not only unhealthy, but it could also be more serious than other distractions like using a mobile phone or eating while driving.
As a result, companies are being urged to ban smoking outright in all vehicles, whether they are affected by the new law or not.
Already rental firms National Car Rental (NCR) and Guy Salmon are applying a UK-wide smoking ban to their 45,000-strong vehicle fleets ahead of the legislation being introduced in England.
There is already a smoking ban in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales that affects many company vehicles, while a ban in Scotland affects vans, but not company cars.
Ron Santiago, NCR’s vice-president, UK operations, said: ‘By putting no-smoking stickers in all our vehicles we can ensure that they are not at risk from the heavy penalties for non-compliance with the new legislation.’
Fleets looking for advice and help have a number of places where they can turn, including the official website, www.smokefreeengland.co.uk.
In addition, leasing companies have prepared a number of guides on the ban to help fleets ensure they are obeying the law.
The ban in brief
1. Employees who have a company vehicle may not smoke while carrying colleagues for work.
2. Drivers will not be allowed to smoke in a company vehicle if it is used by more than one employee, for example pool cars, even if they don’t use it at the same time.
3. Employees sharing a pool car will not be allowed to smoke in the vehicle, even if all the users of the vehicle are heavy smokers.
4. A shared company vehicle is exempt from the ban if it is a convertible – but only when the roof is open.
5. Vehicles require at least one Department of Health no-smoking sign to be visible when people enter the vehicle.