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Shipping: Smoking

Volume 712: debated on Thursday 9 July 2009

Statement

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Paul Clark) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

The Government introduced restrictions on smoking in enclosed workplaces, public places and vehicles in England from 1 July 2007. These provisions are described in the Health Act 2006 and aim to save thousands of lives over the next decade by reducing both exposure to hazardous second-hand smoke and overall smoking rates.

The Health Act 2006 includes provisions designed to prohibit smoking in enclosed public places and vehicles, but does not cover ships operating at sea or on inland waters. Therefore, the Government stated their intention to introduce similar provisions to provide protection from second-hand smoke for people on ships operating in UK waters (including the territorial sea and inland waters).

In 2007, the Department for Transport held a consultation exercise seeking first views on how such restrictions should be applied. Following that consultation, draft regulations have now been produced and are being made available for public consultation from today.

The draft regulations being consulted on are made under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995. They will apply to all ships operating within the 12-mile UK territorial waters, which include inland waters, provided that they carry passengers or employees, unless the ship is exercising the right of innocent passage or the right of transit passage through straits used for international navigation. These provisions will extend to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland so that a consistent set of UK restrictions can be applied.

Smoking will be prohibited except in areas of the ship designated by the master in accordance with the regulations which may include designated smoking cabins on cruise ships or passenger ferries. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency will hold the responsibility for enforcement of these provisions with a scale of penalties similar to those laid down in the Health Act.

Pleasure vessels such as yachts, motor cruisers, and small private fishing vessels, are exempted from the smoke-free provisions. However, any such vessels carrying fare-paying passengers, or operating with an employed crew will fall into scope of the regulations.

Copies of the consultation paper and draft regulations have been sent to a wide range of representatives in the shipping industry and they will have 12 weeks to respond to the consultation. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House. Further copies of the consultation paper are available on the DfT website at www.dft.gov.uk.