Smoking in the workplace
What is the smoking ban?
Public health laws state that smoking is not allowed in enclosed workplaces to protect employees and the public from exposure to the harmful and toxic effects of tobacco smoke.
The law covering smoking in the workplace is the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2002-2015.
Rules for smoking in the workplace
You are not allowed to smoke in an enclosed place of work. This includes various settings such as offices, aircraft, trains, company vehicles, health premises, schools, colleges, cinemas, theatres, licensed premises, and clubs.
Certain premises are exempt from the ban on smoking in the workplace, including:
- Police station detention areas
- Nursing homes
- Religious order homes
- The Central Mental Hospital
- Psychiatric hospitals
- Bedrooms in hotels, guesthouses and bed and breakfast accommodation
- Third-level educational residential facilities.
While these places are exempt, employers can still designate certain areas of their premises as smoking or non-smoking to minimise risk.
For example, the owners of a nursing home could specify that residents can only smoke outside or in a designated smoking room.
Providing a place to smoke
Your employer does not have to provide an outdoor smoking area for staff or customers.
However, if they choose to do so, the smoking area must be outdoors and be either uncovered or only partially covered.
Common areas of buildings
The smoking ban also applies to common areas within buildings. This covers corridors, lobby areas and reception areas of buildings such as apartment blocks and hotels.
Am I entitled to smoking breaks?
By law, you are not entitled to smoking breaks.
You are only entitled to time off work for breaks as set down in Section 12 of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997.
Vaping at work
E-cigarettes (or vapes) are not covered under the smoking ban. Your employer should have its own policy on using e-cigarettes in the workplace. If you are unsure about the rules on vaping in your workplace, check with your employer.
Fines for smoking in a place of work
If you breach the ban on smoking in the workplace, you can get a Class B fine.
Employers are legally responsible for ensuring that staff, customers, and visitors comply with the ban on smoking in the workplace.
Employers and managers must:
- Have a smoke-free policy and communicate it clearly
- Display “No Smoking” signs
- Provide external stubbing bins at entrances where appropriate
Inspections of workplace compliance
Environmental Health Officers from the Health Service Executive (HSE) inspect workplaces to make sure that the ban is being implemented.
They check that smoke-free measures are implemented in workplaces connected with the food, hospitality, and leisure sectors as part of their general compliance with health and safety requirements.
You can read more about tobacco control on the HSE website.
Complain about smoking in the workplace
If you have a complaint about people smoking in a workplace, first inform the owner or manager of the business.
If you are unsatisfied with how your complaint is dealt with, contact your local Environmental Health Service within the HSE or call the National Tobacco Control Office compliance line on 1800 333100.
Where to complain
Contact your local Environmental Health Officer.