Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Taxi drivers told to stub out illegal smoking in cabs

Taxi drivers in Londonderry have been revealed as the city’s worst offenders for smoking in the workplace.

They have again been warned they will be fined or prosecuted if anyone, including themselves, is caught smoking in their cabs.

It comes as Derry City Council revealed that two-thirds of the 73 fixed penalty notices for lighting up in a smoke-free workplace were issued to cab drivers, rather than passengers.

Current legislation prohibits anyone from smoking in a taxi as it is classed as a place of work.

The council said that this applied “at all times, even when there are no passengers in the vehicle or it is being used for private purposes”.

The figure means almost 50 drivers were caught puffing in their cabs, with not a single passenger apparently detected for the same offence.

Jane Gourley, tobacco control officer with Derry City Council, said that the onus is on taxi drivers to display the correct signage and to implement the legislation, including applying it to themselves.

Ms Gourley said: “All taxi vehicles are required to display at least one no-smoking sign in a prominent position in each compartment of the vehicle.

“Failure to do so may result in a fixed penalty notice of up to £200 or a fine of up to £1,000 on conviction.

“If you smoke in a taxi, you may be issued with a fixed penalty notice of up to £50, or be prosecuted and face a fine of up to £1,000.

“And if you fail to prevent anyone else, including passengers, from smoking in your taxi, you may be prosecuted and face a fine of up to £2,500.”

Ms Gourley added that if someone is observed smoking in a taxi, the registered keeper will be contacted and expected to provide details as to who was driving at that time.

It is also an offence not to provide the details requested, and in such cases the registered keeper may be liable to a fine of £1,000 for obstructing an officer.

Ms Gourley encouraged taxi drivers and passengers looking for more information about the legislation to contact Derry City Council's environmental health department.

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