Fleet News

Drivers in a fog over smoke ban

With the English smoking ban now in force, confusion is still widespread as to its effect on vehicles used for work.

A new survey has shown van drivers are largely oblivious of the new rules. Commercial van website Vansunited.co.uk spoke to 1,879 van drivers and found 46% knew nothing about specific rules regarding commercial vehicles.

Only 4% knew they faced a £1,000 fine for failing to display no-smoking signs in their vehicles.Almost half (49%) said they had received no information from their employer about the law.

Some 32% of van drivers smoke – 29% of them in their vans. And 40% allow colleagues to smoke in the vehicle.

Vansunited manager Duncan Colman said: “More communication on the impact of the smoking ban is needed. It would be unfair to anyone who falls foul of a law they knew nothing about if they are fined heavily.”

Leasing company Alphabet is offering free guides about the ban to businesses.

“There is bound to be confusion over the issue of smoking in cars,” said commercial director Richard Schooling.

“Many drivers don’t realise that the ban outlaws smoking in affected vehicles at all times, not just when they are being driven on business. Using private cars for business is another cloudy issue.

Some private cars will be caught by the ban, so firms and drivers need to know where the dividing lines are.”

But amid the confusion, there is good news – the ban could improve residual values for fleet vehicles. Auction houses say fewer ex-fleet cars will have been smoked in, meaning better returns at remarketing time.

“When it is time for it to be sold, a “smoked-in” vehicle is much less appealing to buyers,” said Simon Henstock, BCA’s network operations director.

“Nicotine stains build up in the cabin, the cigarette smell lingers and almost inevitably there is burn damage somewhere.

“Smoking in a vehicle reduces its value and now fleet managers have an effective means to combat that practice.”

Manheim believes smoke-free cars could make £200 more than those driven by a heavy smoker, based on how much a buyer could have to spend to professionally clean a smoked-in vehicle.

“Traders were clear that that smoking reduces the appeal of buying a used car,” said Manheim’s group communications director Rob Bar.

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