Community support holds the key to advance of smokefree public spaces in Nottingham

In the decade since the smokefree regulations were first implemented, Nottingham City Council has been on a drive to extend the number of smokefree outdoor public spaces backed-up by overwhelming public support.  


 kids poster nottingham 


 Bringing the councils together  

In 2017 you will find Kate Smith working as Nottingham City Council’s Smokefree Nottingham Coordinator. But prior to the smoking ban being fully implemented in 2007, Kate was working for the health inequalities team within the Communities Department at Nottinghamshire County Council. 

1 July 2007 was a watershed moment for public health legislation when the new smoking regulations came into effect. But as early as 2004, people in the East Midlands had already been discussing the state of smoking in public places. 

Taking the lead from London, the East Midlands region held their own ‘big smoke debate’. The results were pretty conclusive: 87% of respondents were in favour of smokefree work places and 47% of those people were in favour of smokefree regulations being extended beyond into outdoor spaces as well. The results were fed into the Department of Health and epitomised the strong local support for the smoking ban, while providing evidence for the council in the face of dissent. 

In 2005, Kate helped to establish the City and County Tobacco Alliance, bringing together EHPs from the city, district, borough and county councils across Nottinghamshire. Kate Smith said that the remit of the Alliance was to take the lead in implementing the smokefree law, while guiding other tobacco control initiatives. 

“The Alliance worked extremely well and there was a real partnership approach between all the different councils as we were working to one single goal,” said Kate Smith. 

“I worked directly with Christine Harvey, my Nottingham City Council counterpart and other Council colleagues, to ensure businesses were supported with the new regulations and that there was a consistent approach across all the local authorities in the county.” 

To kick things off, Kate and Christine produced a comprehensive toolkit to support businesses going smokefree. The toolkit included guidance on how businesses could adhere to the 50% rule for smoking shelters and how businesses could motivate more staff to quit smoking through the implementation of effective workplace smokefree policies.  

To further help reduce the fear that was gripping many businesses at the time, the Alliance also produced industry-specific guidance to provide further support ahead of the legislation. For example, Christine worked closely with the hospitality industry and produced a ‘smokefree pub and restaurant guide’ to help prepare food businesses who heavily relied upon visiting customers, encouraging them to be smokefree ahead of the 1 July. 

A large part of the new regulations was about changing behaviours. The Alliance recognised that if they expected businesses and members of the public to change what they did, then the various councils across Nottinghamshire had to lead by example. 

Kate and Christine produced gold standard workplace policies for Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County Councils and in 2006. As a result, smoking was prohibited on all city and county council grounds, both inside and outside – a full year before new smokefree regulations came in. The gold standard policy also afforded members of staff three-and-a-half hours of paid leave so that they could access cessation services and this policy in Nottingham City remains to this day. 

In the months leading up the full implementation of the new smokefree regulations, the majority of the groundwork had been laid, with lots of positive engagement between the councils and the business community. 

To provide that last bit of support, in the weeks leading up to 1 July 2007, the Alliance did a countdown for businesses where they reinforced that the regulations were coming in and ensured that businesses were prepared with new smokefree signs in place. 

1 July: a new dawn  

The day of the new regulations came and went and Kate said that the implementation was fairly successful across the board. Where offences were reported to the council, Environmental Health Officers took the approach of providing support and guidance rather than issuing fixed penalty notices, which were only used as a last resort for persistent offenders. 

Paul Dales, Operations Manager Safer Business, recalls Nottingham’s businesses initially being apprehensive about the changes with only a few expressing opposition during the implementation stage. 

“Compliance visits were predominantly about advising businesses on strategies to calmly deal with any customers unhappy about the changes,” said Paul. “A few non-compliant smoking shelters required officers to give detailed advice to businesses and agreeing sensible timescales to alter them which was a style of approach overwhelmingly met with a spirit of cooperation”. 

In the 10 years since the smokefree regulations were introduced, Kate said that Nottingham and the East Midlands have achieved high levels of compliance. 

“Albeit the smoking rate is still high in Nottingham City there has been a significant reduction in adults smoking and there is no evidence to suggest that there has been an increase of people smoking in their homes,” said Kate. 

“The legislation introduced in 2007 was a huge step forward in terms of improving public health. But Nottingham City Council has gone one step further by working hard to extend smokefree outdoor spaces where local people support them.” 

Smokefree Nottingham  


smokefree nottingham 

 Now working for Smokefree Nottingham, a service offered by Nottingham City Council, Kate said that to increase the number of smokefree spaces the council uses a consistent methodology: 

  • Conduct extensive public consultation 
  • Seek out support from key stakeholders
  • Drive key health messages around taking smoking out of sight of children, i.e. changing behaviours
  • Propose voluntary bans rather than new regulations
  • Ensure clear and effective communication and signage

 And the results have been positive. First Nottingham took the lead on smokefree playgrounds, which proved so successful that the city council has since introduced Smokefree Summer where Council run family events across the City are now smokefree.  

Nonetheless, despite continued high levels of compliance there continue to be a small number of workplaces where staff can still be found smoking. To tackle this Health and Safety colleagues continue to offer support to problem businesses before resorting to handing out fines. 

 Consistent with many councils across the UK, Nottingham has experienced problems with shisha bars. While Nottingham has a relatively small number of shisha bars compared to other areas of the country, officers have found the owners are often unaware of the health risks of shisha use and exposure to environmental tobacco not only for their customers, who are often young adults and in some cases teenagers, but for their own members of staff. 

Environmental Health Officers have worked hard to ensure that shisha bar owners have access to as much information and support as possible to ensure they comply with legislation. Simon Edmond, an Environmental Health Officer in Nottingham City Council’s Safer Business team has developed a new approach which ensures better collaboration between the various departments of the Council and with key stakeholders including Fire and Rescue, so that whichever service is your first port of call, a prospective shisha bar owner will receive uniform and consistent information. 

Kate said: “We’ve had a great experience in Nottingham in advancing smokefree public spaces. The key to all of this is that we have made extra special efforts to harness local community support for all our initiatives. Where there is strong public support, we know we have the authority to carry out our initiatives and this also takes away the fear misunderstanding amongst those who don’t necessarily agree.” 



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