Smoking in work vehicles common in Northern Ireland

The number of people fined for smoking in work vehicles is still high five years after the smoking ban came into Northern Ireland. The tobacco task group within the Department of Health released figures showing there were 533 fines and 16 prosecutions in the last 9 months of 2011 for the offence of smoking in a smoke free place.

Diane Herron, Secretary of the Tobacco Task Group said they suspected the actual number smoking in work vehicles to be higher. "We carried out two vehicle surveys across Northern Ireland in 2010 and 2011 to try to get a feel for how big the problem really was. In the 57,000 work vehicles we surveyed, more than 1,800 people were spotted smoking."

Commenting on the story, Bangor criminal solicitor Gary Adair said:

"There are obvious examples of work vehicles where smoking is not permitted such as buses and taxis. I think what people fail to realise is the smoking ban also applies to any work vehicle used by more than one person even at different times, or only intermittently. This could include work vans or promotional vehicles.

"The regulations do not apply to vehicles which are normally used for private purposes and which the employee owns or has an unrestricted right to use. This may include company cars depending on the circumstances.

"The penalty for smoking in a smoke free place is £50 if dealt with by way of a fixed penalty or up to £1,000 if the offender is taken to Court. Motorists should also remember that on occasion smoking behind the wheel can lead to a prosecution for the more serious road traffic offence of careless or inconsiderate driving which carries a much higher sentencing range of up to £1,000 fine, 3–9 penalty points and a possible disqualification.”

If you have received a Court summons in relation to a motoring offence in Northern Ireland one of Wilson Nesbitt’s special driving offence solicitors can assist you through the Court process. Contact us now on freephone 0800 8400549 or via email at criminal@wilson-nesbitt.co.uk.