3rd January 1972

Guernsey bans smoking in public places

Guernsey has always led the way where banning smoking is concerned. Aurigny became the first airline in the world to ban smoking on all of its flights and Guernsey Prison banned smoking on New Year’s Day 2013 – almost three years before the rest of the British penal system. It was only the second prison in Europe to introduce a smoking ban.

The prison smoking ban was implemented with so few problems that it was studied by the prison service of England and Wales in advance of a similar ban being introduced on the mainland. The prison at Les Nicolles introduced courses to help prisoners overcome their nicotine addiction and sold e-cigarettes on-site. Speaking to The Guardian, governor Dave Matthews said that where a dispute did arise and was blamed on the nicotine ban, looking a little further would usually reveal the root cause actually lay elsewhere.

A hefty penalty

But Guernsey’s move towards becoming smoke-free, or at least smoke-reduced, began long before that when, on 3 January 1972, it introduced a ban on smoking in cinemas, theatres and on buses. Anyone caught breaking the law was fined £25, which might not sound like much now, but with the average British salary of the time being £1,512, it was almost a full week’s pay.

The ban has been extended over the years, to the point where it now applies in most indoor places other than private homes. Guernsey was the first place in the British Isles to ban smoking in all enclosed public spaces, which it did in 2006.

The States has taken a lead in reducing tobacco consumption over the years, and even ruled on what constitutes acceptable workplace smoking shelters. It dictates that at least half of the shelter’s sides must be open and that there must be no direct connecting door between the workplace and the shelter itself.


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