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Insured against risk: High price of ignoring ban

Research has shown that 50% of businesses are unaware that the recent smoking ban also applies to company vehicles.

Under health and safety and employer liability rules, company and courtesy cars are considered an extension of the workplace.

With this in mind, businesses would do well to ensure that all their employees understand the impact the smoking ban will have on them while driving on company business.

Failure to do so could be a costly exercise either in terms of penalties or even an Employers’ Liability claim if an employee’s illness is due to smoke inhalation.

Smokers driving company cars, vans, lorries and enclosed tractors could be fined £50 for lighting up at the wheel if the vehicle might be handed over to a colleague from work later in the day and there is a risk that colleagues might inhale their smoke.

Employees entitled to a company car for their sole use will be allowed to smoke while giving a non-smoking colleague a lift to work, because the journey will count as private use. However, employees sharing a pool car will not be allowed to light up, even if they are all heavy smokers.

Drivers of convertible cars will be exempt as long as the roof is down when they or their passengers are smoking.

Under the 2006 Health Act, employers, managers and those in charge of smoke-free premises and vehicles will need to identify areas where smoking will constitute an offence and display no-smoking signs.

It may be necessary to alter the staff handbook and invoke disciplinary procedures if the ban is ignored. Companies could be subject to a fine of up to £2,500 if they fail to enforce the no-smoking policy and allow their employees to be exposed to smoke.

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