A Guide To Smoking Shelter Regulations In The UK

A Guide To Smoking Shelter Regulations In The UK
6 May 2024 56 view(s) 9 min read
A Guide To Smoking Shelter Regulations In The UK

The Health Act 2006, commonly known as the Smoking Ban, made it illegal to smoke inside all indoor public places and workplaces, including work vehicles. It was brought in to ensure that businesses take actions to protect non-smokers from the harmful effects of smoking. The Act also meant that, if providing smokers with a shelter, businesses must meet specific guidelines within the smoking at work regulations.

A key part of a business’s strategy is sourcing outdoor street furniture, such as shelters and outdoor waste bins for cigarettes, with full consideration of the smoking shelter regulations UK employers must comply with.

In the year following the ban, hospital admissions for heart attacks fell by 2.4% and those for childhood asthma by 12.3%, showing the positive impact it had on public health.

This article will outline the regulations, the benefits of providing a place for employees and visitors to smoke and what to look for when buying smoking shelters for your business.

What you need to know about the UK Smoking Regulations - FAQ

Benefits of providing a smoking shed 

What features should you look for in a smoking shelter?

Choose the right smoking shelter for your business

What you need to know about the UK Smoking Regulations - FAQ

Below, we answer people's most commonly asked questions about the smoking ban and what this means for employers.

Where is it illegal to smoke? 

There is a myth that it is only illegal to smoke inside pubs, clubs and shops. UK law dictates that smoking tobacco products is not permitted in any enclosed workplace or public building. It is also illegal to smoke on public transport in the UK.

As the law relates to enclosed spaces, it is important to note that it is also illegal to smoke inside marquees, large tents, gazebos and substantial canopies over patios.

Local authorities in the UK are responsible for ensuring that smoking laws are met in their area, including ensuring that employers take their legal responsibilities seriously.

However, compliance with the laws on smoking in workplaces is high, as organisations are fully aware of the sound reasoning behind the Health Act 2006. Within 18 months of the smoking regulations becoming active, local authorities conducted research that showed that 98.2% of premises and vehicles had already become smoke-free.

What are the fines for breaking the law?

Fines for individuals who smoke in smoke-free premises

If an employee chooses to break the rules and smoke outside the designated smoking area, it is a matter for the management to deal with, as long as they remain outdoors. However, if that employee comes into an enclosed space and smokes, the individual faces a legal penalty in the form of a fine of up to £200. This fine is up to £50 in Scotland.

Fines for businesses that don’t stop individuals 

There are various tasks that businesses need to do to remain compliant with laws about smoking in the UK. This includes erecting no smoking signs and remaining vigilant to employees or visitors who ignore outdoor smoking area regulations.

If businesses are found to be falling short of legal requirements surrounding smoking within workplaces and other buildings, they face fines of up to £2,500. Even having insufficient no-smoking signs can result in a fine of up to £1,000.

It is slightly different in Scotland, where failing to prevent employees from smoking can attract a fixed penalty fine of £200 (which rises to £2,500 if the fine isn’t paid).

Are there any exemptions to the smoking ban? 

The only exemptions to the smoking ban inside workplaces and public buildings in the UK are very specific. For example, hotels, prisons, care homes and hospices may choose to designate some bedrooms, lounges or other indoor spaces as smoking rooms. These indoor smoking exceptions are for residents, not staff. Smoking rooms for employees are not permitted by law. Employees would still need to use a smoking shed or vaping shelter outside. This makes an outdoor smoking shed an important addition to enable your workplace to stay compliant and provide an option for employees who smoke.

The main exception to outdoor smoking area regulations is private residences. Homeowners and their guests can legally smoke indoors.

Some structures are not necessarily classed as ‘enclosed’ under the UK indoor smoking ban, such as bus shelters. Some sports venues and other places with only partial roofs can also choose to allow visitors to smoke.

However, many event organisers and sports organisations impose strict no-smoking policies, not least as it is a vital safety measure. In this case, they apply smoking outside buildings regulations UK consumers are already observing for enclosed areas.

What do employers need to do to comply with the law? 

There is a list of employer obligations under UK smoking laws. To remain compliant with smoking regulations, they must:

  • Display no smoking signs clearly throughout their workplace, and also in vehicles. Businesses in Wales need no smoking signs in Welsh and English.
  • Be vigilant and put systems in place to ensure that no one breaks the rules and that everyone adheres to outdoor smoking area regulations.
  • Enforce no smoking policies and procedures that are clear, universal and applied equally to all building occupants, including visitors.
  • Ensure staff don’t smoke inside multiple-driver vehicles, such as fleet cars. 

Smoking is against the law in vans, taxis and buses, and also goods vehicles and company cars used by more than one employee. However, companies may agree to staff smoking in cars provided for their sole use.

Many employers support their no-smoking policy by offering staff access to cessation advice and support. This can still be the case even if they choose to provide a staff smoking shelter.

Also, you must understand UK smoking shelter rules, and be careful where you place smoking sheds and similar structures. For example, a smoking shed shouldn’t be too close to windows and doors.

Are employers required to provide smoking shelters? 

It is not a legal requirement to provide smoking shelters in the UK. However, it is a logical response to outdoor smoking area regulations and a way to manage a fire hazard.

To remain compliant with the ban on indoor smoking, creating a designated smoking area outdoors makes sense. By providing a semi-enclosed space for staff to smoke, employers are actively encouraging them not to break the law on this issue.

If you do opt to buy a workplace smoking shelter, it cannot be enclosed or substantially enclosed or located inappropriately so that you comply with smoking outside buildings regulations.

Does the legislation differ for Scotland, Wales or NI?

The smoking outside buildings regulations UK businesses must observe are largely universal across all countries with a general consensus to improve public health. However, the level of fines that organisations face differs. Also, there is an obligation for employers in Wales to erect no smoking signs in Welsh and English.

Does this apply to vaping?

The law doesn’t apply to e-cigarettes, and it is up to employers whether they can be used on their premises.

Benefits of providing a smoking shed 

A designated smoking area outdoors that includes a semi-enclosed structure encourages users to smoke there in all weathers, offering an important degree of protection against the wind and rain.

The main reason that employers should find a smoking shed supplier is that installing this type of structure actively demonstrates a commitment to UK laws on smoking in workplaces.

A smoking shelter also reduces second-hand smoke for non-smokers and provides a specific place for smokers to go to, away from those who do not smoke.

It also increases the comfort of staff who smoke during work breaks. If this welfare provision was not available, some employees might be tempted to bypass the rules on smoking or choose inappropriate outdoor locations for this (such as outside workplace doorways).

Erecting a workplace smoking shelter could be seen as part of an organisation’s inclusive corporate culture. It demonstrates that this is an employer that meets the needs of all employees.

It can also reduce litter, with smoking sheds having suitable bins for smokers to dispose of their cigarette butts safely, leaving clean premises, and also reducing the risk of fires from unstubbed cigarettes.

What features should you look for in a smoking shelter?

While there is no law demanding that businesses source a smoking and vaping shelter, if they do choose to provide this welfare facility for staff, there are rules to be observed.

The smoking shelter regulations UK businesses must comply with include that it cannot be fully or substantially enclosed. In other words, a compliant smoking shed or similar must be 50% open to ensure proper ventilation.

Other considerations include the following.

Space to install an outdoor smoking structure

There are various sizes and types of street furniture appropriate for this purpose, ranging from small wall-mounted smoking shelters to freestanding structures for multiple smokers to use at once. This designated employee smoking area cannot be located adjacent to doors or windows, enabling smoke to go inside your building. The open sections must enable smoke to pass into the open air.

Size and capacity

Consider the size and capacity of the shelter depending on how many of your workforce may use it. For example, our Traditional Smoking Shelter can hold 12, nine or seven people.

Durability and maintenance

Buying a well-engineered smoking shelter ensures that the structure will withstand the British weather, and offer an easy-to-clear solution for your designated smoking areas. Our Aluminium Economy Smoking Shelter is an excellent example of a compliant shelter that offers durability and value for money.

The materials used to construct the best smoking shelters include steel, aluminium and Perspex,  crafted to be long-lasting as well as fire-safe.

Cost and installation

The price of smoking shelters depends on the size and additional features provided. A more substantial smoking shelter could involve installation costs. For instance, our Classic Smoking Shelter is supplied with assembly and installation instructions, or we can arrange for it to be fixed in place for an additional fee.

You may also need to buy materials to fix wall-mounted shelters in place. All these costs need to be accounted for within your budget.


Businesses can consider how the shelter will look on their property. Modern smoking shelters offer options for customisation. The Classic Smoking Shelter we supply is available in a variety of colours, so it can blend into your premises or match your corporate colours.

Fire safety

When purchasing a compliant smoking shed or vaping shelter, you must consider whether it meets fire safety standards for workplaces. This can entail specifying a model that comes with an optional cigarette bin with ashtray or also purchasing and placing fire retardant bins nearby.


A great idea for meeting outdoor smoking area regulations and encouraging staff to use your shelter is to buy a smoking structure with integral seating. You can also specify a perch with our modern Smoking Shelter model. Alternatively, buy items such as our steel bench with backrest (which comes in multiple colours) that fit into larger shelters.

Choose the right smoking shelter for your business

Here at Kingfisher Direct, we provide a great range of smoking shelters that are available in plenty of colours, materials and structural options at prices that can fit any budget. It is important to choose a reputable supplier that can advise you to make the right choice based on your needs.

If you are still not sure which smoking shed or vaping shelter to buy, we are always able to provide help and advice on the best smoking shelters for workplaces. You can contact us via the details below.

Telephone number: 01777 858009

Email: sales@kingfisherdirect.co.uk

You can also get in touch via a live chat or a contact form on our website.

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