Smoking and vaping regulations in Northern Ireland
Most enclosed public places and workplaces in Northern Ireland are smoke free. It is against the law to smoke in these places. You could be fined for smoking in enclosed public places.
Places where you can't smoke
Under the smoke-free regulations in Northern Ireland, it is against the law to smoke in:
- pubs, bars and nightclubs
- cafes and restaurants
- membership clubs
- indoor shopping centres
- offices and factories
- public transport
- work vehicles used by more than one person
Indoor smoking rooms aren't allowed. If you smoke, you have to go outside.
Since 1 February 2022
Since 1 February 2022, to further protect children and young people from the dangers of second-hand smoke, it is an offence to smoke in a 'smoke-free' private vehicle.
A private vehicle is smoke-free if all of the following conditions are met:
- it is enclosed
- more than one person is in the vehicle
- someone under the age of 18 is in the vehicle
A vehicle is still enclosed even if the windows are down and/ or the doors are open.
The rules do not apply to motorcycles or convertible cars when the roof is completely down.
An exemption is permitted for caravans and motor homes, as the primary purpose of these vehicles is for accommodation, therefore they are only required to be smoke-free when they are on the road.
Penalties for smoking in smoke-free private vehicles are set out in the ‘penalties and fines’ section below.
Places where you can smoke
You can smoke:
- in your own home, except in any part that is used only as a place of work by more than one person
- in your own vehicle, as long as it is used primarily for private purposes (however, if your vehicle is enclosed and more than one person is present, there must not be anyone under the age of 18 in the vehicle)
- outdoors, in areas that are not 'substantially enclosed'
Further details on smoke-free private vehicles can be found in the ‘Places where you can’t smoke’ section above.
Outdoor places where you can't smoke
Some outdoor places have a smoke-free policy (some policies may also include vaping). For example, you must not smoke:
- on train platforms
- in certain sports stadia
- on Health and Social Care Trust-owned grounds including car parks
There are some specific exemptions to the smoke-free law, with strict conditions.
Designated rooms for smoking are allowed in certain types of places, including:
- bedrooms in hotels and guesthouses (but not dormitories)
- care homes and hospices
Restrictions on retailers
It is illegal for a retailer to sell either tobacco products or nicotine inhaling products (including e-cigarettes/ vapes) to anyone under the age of 18. This includes cigarette papers or e-cigarette/ vaping device refill containers.
There are a number of other restrictions on retailers selling tobacco products, including a requirement to register centrally and a ban on the display of tobacco products in shops.
Further information on selling age-restricted products, including penalties and fines for underage tobacco and nicotine inhaling product sales, can be found at the following link:
Buying or attempting to buy on behalf of a child
It is an offence for an adult to buy, or try to buy, any tobacco products or nicotine inhaling products (including e-cigarettes/ vapes) on behalf of someone under the age of 18 (known as proxy purchasing).
Penalties and fines
The fixed penalty notices and maximum fines for each offence are set out below:
- smoking in smoke-free premises, work vehicles or smoke-free private vehicles: a fixed penalty notice of £50 (reduced to £30 if paid in 15 days) for the person smoking, or a maximum fine of £1,000 if prosecuted and convicted by a court
- allowing smoking in a smoke-free place or work vehicle if you have management responsibilities: a maximum fine of £2,500 if prosecuted and convicted by a court
- a driver allowing smoking in a smoke-free private vehicle: a fixed penalty notice of £50 for the driver, or a maximum fine of £2,500 if prosecuted and convicted by a court
- failure to display no-smoking signs: a fixed penalty notice of £200 (reduced to £150 if paid in 15 days) for whoever manages or occupies the smoke-free premises or work vehicle, or a maximum fine of £1,000 if prosecuted and convicted by a court
- selling tobacco products or nicotine inhaling products (including e-cigarettes/vapes) to a person under the age of 18: a fixed penalty notice of £250, or a maximum fine of £5,000 if prosecuted and convicted by a court
- an adult buying, or attempting to buy, tobacco products or nicotine inhaling products (including e-cigarettes/ vapes) on behalf of a person under the age of 18: a fixed penalty notice of £250, or a maximum fine of £5,000 if prosecuted and convicted by a court
Local councils are primarily responsible for giving advice and enforcing the smoke-free and tobacco/ nicotine age of sale restrictions in Northern Ireland.
Reporting smoking in a smoke-free area
Contact the local council to report breaches of the smoke-free law. The council will investigate.