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Home \Legislation by Country \England \  Summary
Last updated: October 1st 2015

Introduction

The United Kingdom became a Party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on March 16, 2005.

Smoke Free Places: Smoking is prohibited in public transport, indoor public places, and indoor workplaces, including work vehicles. There are a few limited exceptions to the ban. Specifically, smoking is permitted in designated rooms in hotels, long term care homes, palliative hospices, prisons, and off shore installations such as oil rigs; and smoking is permitted for sampling cigars or pipe tobacco in specialist tobacco shops.

Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship: Tobacco advertising and promotion is generally prohibited, subject to a few exceptions such as direct person-to-person communications and retailer incentive programs. Point-of-sale tobacco advertising is prohibited in large and small retail shops, although permitted inside specialist tobacconists for tobacco products other than cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco. Display of tobacco products is prohibited in large and small retail shops, although permitted, subject to some restrictions, in specialist tobacconists and bulk tobacconists. There are some restrictions on tobacco sponsorship and the publicity of such sponsorship.

Tobacco Packaging and Labeling: Rotating text-only warnings are required to cover 30 percent of the front of the package, and rotating combined picture and text warnings are required to cover 40 percent of the back of the package. Warnings must be enclosed by a border, which brings the total size of the warning area to 43 percent of the front surface and 53 percent of the back surface. Misleading packaging and labeling, which could include terms such as “light” and “low tar” and other signs, is prohibited. Plain packaging of tobacco products is currently not required, although the UK government has initiated the process of developing a plain packaging policy.

Roadmap to Tobacco Control Legislation: The Health Act 2006 governs many aspects of public health, including tobacco control.  With respect to tobacco control, the Act regulates smoking in public places, workplaces, and public transport.  Numerous regulations have been issued under the Health Act to implement the Act, including: 1) Smoke-free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006, which define “enclosed” and “substantially enclosed,” and set out the authority of enforcement agencies; 2) Smoke-free (Vehicle Operators and Penalty Notices) Regulations 2007, which regulate smoking in enclosed public vehicles; 3) Smoke-free (Penalties and Discounted Amounts) Regulations 2007, which set penalties for smoking violations; 4) Smoke-free (Exemptions and Vehicles) Regulations 2007, which set forth exemptions to the ban on smoking and define “enclosed vehicle”; 5) Smoke-free (Signs) Regulations 2012, which set out requirements for no-smoking signs; and (6) Smoke-free (Private Vehicles) Regulations 2015, which prohibit smoking in enclosed private vehicles in which children are present.

Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002 (“TAPA”) governs tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, other than on broadcast media. TAPA was amended by: 1) the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion 2002 etc. (Amendment) Regulations 2006, which added provisions to specifically address information society services, such as the internet, and 2) the Health Act 2009, which authorized regulations to: prohibit tobacco product display at retail shops, restrict product displays on websites, and prohibit tobacco vending machines.

Numerous regulations have been issued under TAPA to implement the Act. The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (Display) (England) Regulations 2010 prohibit the display and advertising of tobacco products in most retail shops. The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (Specialist Tobacconists) (England) Regulations 2010 more stringently regulate point of sale advertising and product display at specialist tobacconists. The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (Display of Prices) (England) Regulations 2010 regulate the display of price lists at points of sale. Other regulations issued under TAPA include: 1) the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (Brandsharing) Regulations 2004, which prohibit brand sharing and reverse brand sharing, and 2) the Protection from Tobacco (Sales from Vending Machines) (England) Regulations 2010, which prohibits vending machines as of October 2011.

Broadcast media is regulated by the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising, which prohibits tobacco advertising on broadcast media regulated by Ofcom (TV, radio, and mobile phones).  The paid placement of tobacco products on TV and on-demand programs is prohibited by the Audiovisual Media Services (Product Placement) Regulations 2010 and unpaid depiction of tobacco product or smoking is restricted by the Ofcom Broadcasting Code.

The packaging and labeling of tobacco products is governed by the Tobacco Products (Manufacture, Presentation and Sale) (Safety) Regulations 2002, which were amended by the Tobacco Products (Manufacture, Presentation and Sale) (Safety) (Amendment) Regulations 2007 to require picture warnings. These regulations were issued under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, which makes it an offense to fail to give information required for a specific good.

Review Status

This country’s legal measures were reviewed by our legal staff in consultation with in-country lawyers or tobacco control experts.

The materials and analysis available at this website are for informational and educational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.