Last updated: December 3, 2021
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 and offshore 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
Standardized (plain) packaging is required for all packages of cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco as of May 20, 2017. Packaging must be Pantone 448 C - a medium brown color - made of carton or soft material, be cuboid in shape, and may not contain any elements - including text, trademark or other symbols - other than the required health warnings, brand name and variant name, quantity of cigarettes (or weight of hand rolling tobacco), and details about the producer in a standard typeface, font color, and size.
Rotating pictorial health warnings must occupy 65 percent of the front and 65 percent of the back of all smoked tobacco product packaging. For smokeless tobacco product packaging, one text-only health warning must occupy 30 percent of the front and 30 percent of the back of the package. Misleading packaging and labeling, which could include terms such as “light” and “low tar” and other signs, is prohibited.
Cigarette Contents and Disclosures
The law regulates specified contents of cigarettes, including banning characterizing flavors; and ingredients that facilitate nicotine uptake, create the impression of health benefits, or are associated with energy and vitality; among others. The law requires that manufacturers and importers disclose to government authorities and the public information on the contents and emissions of their products.
The law prohibits the sale of tobacco products via vending machines, single cigarettes, small packets of cigarettes, and tobacco for oral use. The sale of tobacco products is prohibited to persons under the age of 18.
The law permits the sale of e-cigarettes. There is no national law prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes in indoor public places, workplaces, or public transport. The law prohibits advertising and promotion including in print media, internet, radio and television. There are exceptions including trade publications, direct person-to-person communications, and retail incentive programs. Additionally, the law does not prohibit outdoor advertising, domestic sponsorship, or advertising via direct mail. Text-only health warnings are required on product packaging. The sale of e-cigarettes is prohibited to persons under the age of 18.
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. Government policy also prohibits smoking in all government facilities.
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 products or smoking is restricted by the Ofcom Broadcasting Code.
The packaging and labeling of tobacco products is governed by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 and the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015.
E-cigarettes are primarily regulated under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 (S.I. 2016 No. 507). Amendments were made to this law under the Tobacco Products and Nicotine Inhaling Products (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (S.I. 2019 No. 41) and the Tobacco Products and Nicotine Inhaling Products (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 after the withdrawal from the European Union.
This country’s legal measures were reviewed by our legal staff in consultation with in-country lawyers or tobacco control experts.