Work drivers still flouting smoking laws

FIVE years after Northern Ireland went smoke-free, drivers of work vehicles are still the biggest culprits when it comes to flouting the law, it has been revealed.

Monday April 30 this year saw the fifth anniversary of the Smoking (NI) Order, which banned smoking in enclosed or substantially enclosed work and public places as well as in vehicles used for the purposes of work and for transporting the public i.e. taxis, buses, vans, lorries etc.

But while pubs and restaurants across Northern Ireland have shown a 98 per cent compliance rate with the legislation, some smokers are ignoring the law and lighting up behind the wheel while driving a work vehicle.

Marissa Slevin, Tobacco Control Officer for Banbridge District Council said, “The introduction of the smoke-free legislation has been very successful from a compliance point of view.

“However we have found that some people still think nothing of smoking in their work vehicle even though this is against the law.

“Surveys carried out across Northern Ireland in 2010 and 2011 showed that in the 57,000 work vehicles, more than 1,800 people were observed smoking. With this being the fifth anniversary of the smoke-free legislation, we’re hoping to raise awareness around this issue and remind drivers that they will be fined £50 if they’re caught smoking behind the wheel of a work vehicle.

“We would also like to take the opportunity to remind all those with management responsibilities for public and work premises to ensure the high level of compliance with the Smoking (NI) Order continues throughout the district. Ongoing monitoring by Environmental Health staff will continue to ensure premises remain smoke-free.”

Council Chairman Councillor Joan Baird said: “The introduction of smoke-free legislation in April 2007 was a major breakthrough in protecting people at work, and the general public, from second-hand exposure to the numerous harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke. Compliance levels with the legislation in Banbridge District Council area have been high and I would like to commend business owners on this.”

Supporting smokers to quit is a key priority for the council and anyone in need of further advice on on helpful services within the borough can contact Alex McMeekin, Health Improvement Officer on 028 4066 0606 or visit www.want2stop.info to find out your nearest stop smoking clinic.

For any queries or advice on the Smoking (NI) Order contact the Council’s Environmental Health Department on 028 4066 0606.