Career Clinic

Q: I am a volunteer driver in my local area, most of the time using my own car. I am also a smoker, although I never smoke when I’m driving a client. I have been told that I have to put “No Smoking” stickers in my car in readiness for the 1 July 2007 law change. Surely this can’t be right?

A: I’m afraid it is. The new law requires vehicles to be smoke-free at all times if they are used to transport members of the public, regardless of whether that is through paid or voluntary work. However, I do feel that this is a case of health and safety running out of control.

I regularly work in Spain, where they handled the issue of smoking in public places over a year ago. Every public establishment was given the choice whether to be smoky, or smoke-free, and they display a blue-tick or a red-cross sticker accordingly so you know before you enter what you’re likely to encounter.

They also have a rule that, if you choose to be smoke-free, you can’t sell cigarettes. This seems right and proper. But I noticed last weekend in the UK that my parents’ local pub, which has declared itself a smokeless zone ahead of the legislation, still has the cigarette machine. I would imagine that is tantamount to torture for most smokers.

From July, if you work from home you can smoke if you like – unless that part of your private dwelling is used solely for work purposes and is used by more than one person, and that includes people who deliver or receive goods or services. So don’t invite the postman in for a cup of tea!

There are some exemptions: individual bedrooms or rooms in care homes, hospices, prisons and residential mental health units. But it’s advisable to check with your local authority, as the exemptions may not carry on for long.

As far as driving goes, vehicles with a roof that can be stowed or removed will not be required to be smoke-free when the roof is completely removed or stowed. Perhaps it’s time to treat yourself to that convertible you’ve always dreamed of. If you can’t afford an MG or Porsche, a convertible Ka, Beetle or Peugeot come with a more reasonable price tag!

Alison Sanger is a social care HR consultant

A: So you have to put No Smoking stickers in your car – big deal. If no-one else is in the car with you, who is going to report you if you light up off duty? You already have the courtesy not to smoke when you have passengers, so I really think you have nothing to worry about!

Name and address withheld

A: It is part of the commitment you have generously made as a volunteer that you have to respect your clients, many of whom will be non-smokers and some of whom may be asthmatic and allergic to smoke. Even if you don’t smoke when someone is in your car, stubbing out your cigarette just before they get in is just as bad as the smell tends to linger. It does seem harsh if this means you can’t even smoke in your car at the weekends. But, having said that, why not see it as a chance to kick the habit?

Name and address withheld

Your questions answered by Community Care readers

5 july question

Q: I have a member of staff who will not co-operate with the team. I have tried to address the issues and my manager has told me to “just manage her – that’s your job”. But when I’ve tried to do this, she accuses me of being racist, and colludes with my manager, the only other Asian woman in the team. What can I do? We will answer this question in the 5 July issue of Community Care. We want to publish your advice: please send it to by Wednesday 27 June.

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