Smoking in the workplace

Why you need a policy

no smoking signSmoking in enclosed places of work is banned in Ireland since the introduction of the Tobacco Smoking (Prohibition) Regulations 2003.

This introduced a ban in most work areas with the exception of the following:

  • Prisons

  • Garda station detention areas

  • St. Patrick's institution

  • Nursing homes

  • Hospices

  • Religious order homes

  • The Central Mental Hospital

  • Psychiatric hospitals

  • Maternity homes

  • Hotel, guesthouse and B&B bedrooms

  • Third level educational residential facilities

Outdoor smoking areas

An employer can provide an outdoor smoking area if they wish. It must comply with the strict definition contained in legislation.

The law has defined an outdoor area as:

  • A place or premises, or part of a place or premises, that is wholly uncovered by any roof, fixed or mobile.

  • An outdoor place or premises that is covered by a roof, so long as not more than 50% of the perimeter (outside) is covered by a wall, windows, gate or similar.

Smoking is banned in the common areas of a building.




Is there a need for a smoking in the workplace policy?

You may be tempted to say that a policy is not needed because you can rely on the law. The law however places certain obligations on the employer to ensure that the ban on smoking in the workplace is implemented. You may be fined up to €3000 for a breach of the legislation.

What is expected from the employer?

An employer must use its best endeavours to ensure compliance with the ban on smoking legislation. This involves making customers, visitors and staff aware of the ban on smoking and what to do in the event of a breach.

What are the minimum efforts an employer must make?

  1. Develop and implement an effective smoke-free policy which involves clear communication and procedure for dealing with a breach

  2. Display “No smoking” signs to alert all to the existence of the ban on smoking.

  3. Remove all ash trays and other smoking related paraphernalia

It is good practice to incorporate a smoke-free policy in the contract of employment for all workers. This ensures that the employee has an opportunity to become familiar with the procedures. The policy should identify the members of staff who have responsibility for its implementation, what to do in the event of a breach and what disciplinary procedures should be followed.

Download Guidance for Employers and Managers Public Health (Tobacco) Acts here ;

What about e cigarettes?

For more information on the need for an electronic cigarettes policy click here

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