DRIVERS of work vehicles have been warned they face a fine of £50 if they light up while behind the wheel, as Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council reveals it has issued 27 fixed penalty notices for the offence within the last 12 months.
The warning comes as it was announced that, five years after Northern Ireland went smoke-free, work vehicle drivers are still the biggest culprit when it comes to flouting the law.
Dungannon Council’s Tobacco Control Officer, Susan Maxwell, said the legislation had been very successful from a compliance point of view.
However, she added that some people still “think nothing” of smoking in their work vehicle even though it is against the law.
Susan continued: “In the last twelve months from April 2011, 27 fixed penalty notices have been issued within Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council area for lighting up behind the wheel but unfortunately we suspect the figures to be higher.
“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 borough. Ongoing monitoring by Environmental Health staff will continue to ensure premises remain smoke-free.”
Local Mayor, Councillor Kenneth Reid, added: “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 Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council area have been high and I would like to commend business owners on this.”
The Smoking (NI) Order makes it illegal to smoke 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, including taxis, buses, vans, and lorries.
Supporting smokers to quit is a key priority for the Council and anyone wishing more advice on smoking cessation services within the borough can contact Ciara Burke, Health Improvement Officer, on 028 8772 0366 or visit www.want2stop.info to find out their nearest stop smoking clinic.
For any queries or advice on the Smoking (NI) Order contact Susan Maxwell, Tobacco Control Officer on 028 8772 0336.