Smoking ban is second nature to businesses in Leicester, says council EHP

Following the council’s significant investment to ensure all businesses were informed of the new regulations, 10 years on and the smoking ban is second nature to the majority of businesses in Leicester.  

no smoking pub,restaurant 

Leicester gets prepared  


When Leicester City Council was made aware the smoking ban was coming into effect, the local authority in 2006 quickly implemented a smoke free compliance team (SFCT).

Their remit was to actively visit all the commercial businesses in Leicester prior to the ban, providing signage and advice to explain what their new responsibilities would be. 

The team consisted of three officers and a manager. The team also used the expertise of Environmental Health Officers in the Health and Safety team, such as Gurdeep Dosanjh. Today, the team is known as the Public Safety team. 

The SFCT, visited the majority of commercial premises in Leicester to inform them about the upcoming ban that would cover factories, warehouses, offices, shops, pubs and other entertainment venues. 

“On the whole, businesses were largely keen to implement the ban, agreed with the key health messages and understood what their role was in complying with the new regulations,” said Gurdeep. 

“We also did a lot of work with the council’s planning team as they received a glut of planning applications to erect smoking shelters in the wake of businesses reacting to the ban. The shelters were not only for the visiting public but also for members of staff.”

The local authority received such applications from a variety of entertainment and leisure businesses, including pubs cinemas, bingo halls and hotels. It was SFCT responsibility to check the plans met the ‘50% rule’ so that more than half of the shelter was open to the elements. 

Once the ban came in to effect, Gurdeep said that the vast majority of businesses demonstrated good compliance with the new regulations. EHPs were also available, alongside their day to day duties, to provide advice in the early days of the ban to ensure businesses felt fully supported. 

As expected, not everyone welcomed the new regulations. The SFCT received reports from some entertainment venues, including pubs and bars, saying that they had lost revenue. Bus and taxi drivers also proved to be problematic as they mistakenly thought the smoking ban didn’t apply to them, despite driving a work-based vehicle.  

Lessons learnt  

And in the 10 years since the ban was first introduced, problems with shisha bars have grown. In 2007 this was seen as a niche activity but today in Leicester you can find many shisha bars many of whom have still not got to grips with the regulations. 

The main problem according to Gurdeep is that when smokers stepped outside an office, pub or restaurant to have a smoke, they are doing this for a very short time and then return back to work or meal. In contrast, people visiting shisha bars are actively choosing to smoke and quite often this includes young people. 

In addition to the health risks of smoking shisha due to its high carcinogenic content, shisha bars are often found to be unlicensed, under the radar, and naïve of fire safety regulations. The smoking areas can also be found outside and Gurdeep says that in winter times, structures can become more covered and so fail to meet the 50% rule or even more disturbing they move underground. 

shisha in toilet  

Shisha pipes hiddenfrom inspectors in disabled toilet 

Nonetheless, 10 years on and Gurdeep says that he has definitely seen improvements. 

“Today when I engage with businesses, especially those in the entertainment sector, they all say the smoking ban is second nature and couldn’t imagine a time when someone could smoke on their premises,” said Gurdeep. 

“But as the shisha bars have demonstrated, our work in this area is never finished. We still engage with businesses, conducting both routine and unannounced visits during trading hours and special night time visits to ensure compliance. Importantly, our aim is not to persecute businesses but to provide sound advice to help them comply with the Smokefree Regulations”. 




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