Churches Get Ready for 'No Smoking' Signs

Churches are getting ready to put up 'No Smoking' signs from 1 July, when the law to ban smoking in public buildings comes into force.

Churches will be putting up 'No Smoking' signs from 1 July, when the law to ban smoking in public buildings comes into force. The new smoke-free law applies to virtually all 'enclosed' and 'substantially enclosed' public places, including churches, places of worship and church or parish halls.

"I think it took us aback when we realised churches would have to display No Smoking signs in our buildings, which in this part of the world are old historic ones," said Anni Holden, Director of Communications for the Diocese of Hereford. "We will be conforming though and putting up signs in our churches."

The law says that signs 'need to be displayed in a prominent position at every entrance to smoke-free premises'. It does not stipulate the precise location but will be up to each church body to choose the most appropriate place in the building for the sign, as long as the sign is prominently displayed.

The Diocese of Hereford has tried to make life easier for its parishes by providing a 'No Smoking' sign for its churches on the diocesan website.

The law is quite precise about the size of the notice to be displayed and though not prescriptive about position, churches will have to ensure the sign is clear and visible and not hidden away.

The signs will make it clear which premises are smoke free and will demonstrate that the church authorities are taking the necessary steps to meet the requirements of the new law. They also provide some degree of legal protection for the church authorities in the unlikely event of someone being caught smoking on church premises.

"It is very unusual for people to light up in churches. I've only seen it once in my life and that was someone with a few problems. Most people instinctively wouldn't smoke in church but if the law says we must display the signs then we want our churches to comply," added Anni. "It will take more than one or two signs to take anything away from our superb, historic and beautiful buildings."

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