Smoking In Covered Walkways: What You Need To Know

In the last decade or two, the law around smoking in enclosed public places has changed dramatically. Anyone who visited a pub in the 1990s or earlier will know that the experience is now very different – and the penalties for breaking the rules are severe.

But how does the law apply to covered walkways? It can sometimes seem like a grey area – but the law is actually quite cut and dried. This article will share some insights into how you can ensure your walkway is adhering to the law.

The relevant legislation

The Smoke Free Regulations say that it is against the law to smoke in an area that is substantially enclosed. That, of course, seems at first glance to be something of a subjective judgement, as what is considered to be “substantial” can vary from person to person!

The litmus test in the eyes of the law is whether half of the perimeter of the space below the covering is outdoors. If it is, you can smoke – and if it’s not, you can’t. This means it’s likely that any shelter which has a pair of walls but isn’t fully surrounded by them is a permissible place when it comes to smoking.

If you’re a local authority, you’ve got two aspects to consider. You’re probably likely to operate some covered walkways of your own, perhaps in environments such as schools. But local authorities are also responsible for ensuring that other organisations in the area stick to the law – and it’s not the job of the police.

Prevention and enforcement

When it comes to ensuring that your covered walkways remain as smoke free as possible, it’s important to be realistic. Unfortunately, it’s likely that sometimes people will smoke in covered walkways no matter what sort of walkway you have. If they believe that it is possible to smoke without any reproach, then they may well do so – and that’s where preventative and enforcement measures come in. And even if your covered walkway is not enclosed, it may be the case that you want to ban smoking there anyway.

“No smoking” signs can help in this regard. If cleaning is your main concern, it may also be putting up bins for discarded cigarette butts – although this also comes with a risk, as it could inadvertently create the sense that smoking is indeed allowed.

If you’re certain that the shelter or walkway you operate is too enclosed for smoking to be permitted, or you want to clamp down on illicit smoking, you may need to investigate CCTV or a regular patrol service to keep on top of the problem. This could incur a cost, and that would need to be balanced against the cost of smoke damage to the fixtures and fittings of the walkway plus the ongoing cleaning costs.

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A quick guide to the smokefree law