Smoking Shelter Regulations Explained: Everything You Need To Know

Smoking Shelter Regulations Explained: Everything You Need To Know

In this blog piece, we will cover everything you need to know about smoking shelters at work with all smoking shelter regulations explained.

The harmful effects of smoking on our health and of those we smoke around are commonly known. As a result of many years of campaigns, reports, and studies, the UK government introduced controversial legislation in 2007 that changed the way those who wished to smoke could do so in public places like public transport and enclosed work premises.

The new law directed that places of work must be smoke-free at all times in all enclosed and substantially enclosed parts. Despite suggestions that the legislation was disproportionate, the House of Commons voted in favour of the legislation, marking a new era in the way people in the UK could smoke.

In response to the legislation and the regulations that came with it, businesses had to look at whether it was feasible to provide places for their staff and visitors to smoke safely on their premises. Smoking shelters were created to allow this to happen.

As you’d expect, this type of shelter has to comply with regulations to ensure they are safe and in line with the purpose of the primary legislation which is to reduce smoking and protect non-smokers from being exposed to second-hand smoke.

This blog will tell you all you need to know about smoking shelters and how you can create one that complies with the smoking shelter regulations and helps to keep your building safe and free from smoke.

Pro Tip: You are under no obligation to provide a smoking shelter for your employees – Keep reading to learn more.

image of bespoke smoking shelters

The Regulations 

Is it a legal requirement for public buildings to have smoking shelters?No
If my business has them, are there regulations I need to comply with?Yes

What is a smoking shelter?

A smoking shelter is a designated outside space for people to smoke in which protects them from the weather. The purpose is to provide shelter, but also to allow appropriate ventilation so that the smoke can disperse, reducing its harmful effects for those smoking and non-smokers who are near the shelter.

The smoking shelter regulations specify the type of structure it needs to be, but it can simply be an area with a canopy so that those smoking have some protection from the weather. You can create a more enclosed shelter than that with a back and sides if you want to provide more protection. However, it cannot be wholly enclosed.

Are smoking shelter regulations enforceable?

There can be some confusion around smoking shelters and whether the regulations are enforceable. It’s important to note here although it is discussed in more detail below, that there is no legal obligation to have smoking shelters.

However, if you do have them, they must comply with the regulations. Those are that shelters must not be fully enclosed, but they can have walls and a roof, as long as there is a permanent opening so that smoke can disperse into the air.

Why are smoking shelters used?


Smoking is harmful to our health so why is it appropriate to have smoking shelters?

Ultimately, whether your employees or customers and clients smoke is their personal choice. Providing somewhere for them to do this safely and away from the entrances and exits to your building not only protects non-smokers, but it helps to create a good impression for visitors.

Smoking shelters help to minimise cigarette litter and encourage smokers to use them and keep public buildings and enclosed areas smoke-free, helping you to comply with your obligation under the smoking ban legislation.

Are smoking shelters compulsory outside public buildings?


No. You are under no legal obligation to provide smoking shelters for your employees, customers, or clients. However, you are legally obliged to provide no-smoking signs within workplace buildings to ensure they are smoke-free and if you do have shelters, they must comply with the regulations.

Although it isn’t a legal requirement to have smoking shelters in designated outdoor areas, it is good practice to have them. They encourage smokers to only smoke in that area which helps you to comply with your legal obligations for enclosed workplaces, work vehicles, and the like. They also reduce the likelihood of you receiving second-hand smoke complaints.

How many sides can a smoking shelter have?


The regulations don’t specify how your shelter should look other than it must have openings so that it is not fully or substantially closed. This gives you free rein in terms of a lot of the design and materials used. However, to comply with the regulations, the shelter must not have any fittings that can be opened or closed which means that more than 50% of the space is enclosed. This is to ensure that there is sufficient ventilation to disperse the smoke. Enclosed spaces allow smoke to linger which is harmful to occupants and is exactly what the smoking legislation aims to avoid.

If you want to create a shelter against a wall, you need to make sure there is still a large enough opening to comply with the regulations. That may mean that the other sides are open. With careful planning and design, this kind of structure will still provide adequate protection from the weather.

Seating areas can be added as well as outdoor heaters that will keep your employees, visitors, and customers warm and dry while they smoke. Doors, passageways, and windows are not considered openings and are therefore excluded from the calculation as to whether an area is enclosed or substantially enclosed as when closed, they don’t allow for the intended natural ventilation.

How far must a smoking shelter be from any other structures?


There are no legal requirements on how far a smoking shelter should be from any other structure. However, we’d always recommend it be at least 2 metres away from other structures. There may be ventilation issues if it’s too close to a building, or you may receive complaints if it is too close to any entranceways or windows.

If you would like further information you can reach out to us directly or get in touch with your local council or authority.

How can Miko Engineering help?

If you would like to provide a smoking shelter on your premises, contact our team of experts who are available to talk through your ideas.

At Miko Engineering we work on the basis that ‘all things are possible’. This motto comes from over 30 years of experience in the design and manufacturing of street furniture and shelters. These blanket terms cover a wide range of products, including our smoking shelters.

Just because this type of shelter has to comply with certain regulations, doesn’t mean that it has to be dull. We can help you to create a bespoke design that enhances your building and complies with the requirements of the regulations so that your staff and clients are safe.

We also have a range of standard shelters that can include seating areas and a range of other options.

To find out about our full range, get in touch with the Miko Engineering team today!

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