The county council has adopted a policy that could see smoking banned from all its premises – inside and outside.

Currently employees, visitors and contractors who are working in county council premises can still smoke in designated outdoor areas.

But the new ‘tobacco control policy’ – agreed by a meeting of the council’s cabinet on Monday (July 8) – moves the council towards becoming completely ‘smoke free’ as early as practicably possible.

The policy – which builds on the council’s last tobacco policy adopted in 2013 – also asks that the council’s pensions committee reviews its portfolio of investments.

At the meeting of the cabinet, executive member for public health and prevention, Cllr Tim Hutchings pointed to the 12.7 per cent of residents in the county who smoke, which is lower than the national average of 14.9.

And he highlighted data that shows that smoking among young people in the county is at an all-time low.

However, he also pointed to the 1,500 people who die in the county every year as a result of smoking-related conditions.

And he said the smoking-related problems in the county cost £257,000 a year, in terms of social care, health care and local government costs.

Cllr Hutchings said the council should set a good example. And he said he had asked officers to look at turning Hertfordshire County Council into a ‘smoke free’ organisation, where smoking would be banned completely from the estate.

However, he also warned that the challenge of achieving this should not be underestimated.

According to the policy this would extend to all premises owned or leased by the council, including outside space.

However, at an earlier meeting of the public health and prevention cabinet panel, it was suggested that it would not extend to anyone’s home.

At the cabinet meeting executive member for growth, infrastructure, planning ad the economy Cllr Derrick Ashley said he wanted to “strongly support” the policy – particularly the moves towards becoming ‘smoke-free’.

And he highlighted the impact that the cost of smoking had on some of the poorest families in the county.

According to the policy, those in poverty spend five times as much of their income on tobacco products – and this is a “significant contribution to child poverty”.

The ‘Reducing the harm from Tobacco in Hertfordshire’ policy statement is designed to reduce the harm caused by tobacco.

This, it says, includes health inequalities and deaths and disability caused by tobacco use and second-hand smoke. It also includes the impact of smoking on adult social care costs and the productivity of council staff, through smoking-related illnesses.