19 June, 2007
Publicans, restaurateurs and hoteliers may well be quietly thanking their lucky stars over the smoking ban, which commences in England on 1 July 2007. They will no longer have to meet the cost of cleaning ashtrays, clearing up cigarette butts and the more frequent cleaning of soft furnishings that smoking necessitates. However, just to prove every silver lining comes with a cloud, new legislation is proposed which will allow local councils to require licensees to be responsible for cleaning the pavements adjacent to their premises for up to 100 metres. The new legislation is expected to be introduced to coincide with the introduction of the smoking ban.
If the Local Authority sees the amount of litter as constituting a nuisance, it will be able to issue a 'Street Litter Control Notice' to compel licensees to clean the street near their premises. Cigarette butts are seen as a particular problem with some kinds of pavement.
As a first step, the provision of adequate numbers of litter bins in areas used by smokers must be a sensible precaution.
Adam Bromley, Licensing Law specialist at Forbes Solicitors advises "Licensees should check the terms of their licence. This would involve checking when outside areas should be vacated and putting up signs to let customers know. The details of the licence might permit customers outside after a certain time but they may not be permitted to drink. Licensees should also be aware that more people outside means more chance of residents complaining about extra noise so further signs may be needed to ask customers to respect neighbours".
Head of Employment at Forbes, Peter Byrne, added "The smoking ban is also another legal headache for employers. One issue which is likely to arise time and again is the question of cigarette breaks. An employer is only obliged by law to provide employees with a 20 minute break in any period of work of 6 hours or more. For employers who do not have a smoking policy in place the ban provides an ideal opportunity to introduce them. Those that have existing policies will need to review them to ensure that they comply with the new legislation. Clear policies will be needed to ensure that whatever approach is taken by the employer their policy can be enforced. Employers need to act now and take advice to protect their business".