England bans smoking in cars

27th Feb 2015

Smoking in your car if you are carrying children as passengers will soon be illegal in England. The law is expected to come into effect on October 1 this year, and follows similar bans already in place in Wales; Scotland is also considering bringing in the new law.

Anyone found flouting the law in England could be fined £50. It will not however apply to people driving in a car on their own or people driving a convertible with the roof down. The law is designed to protect young people under the age of 18 from the harmful effects of passive smoking.

Earlier this month, the regulations were passed in the Commons after 342 MPs voted in favour of legislation while just 74 voted against.

The British Lung Foundation welcomed the ban, stating that more than 430,000 children are exposed to second-hand smoke in cars each week. Passive smoking can increase the risk of asthma, meningitis and cot death, according to public health experts; they hope the introduction of the ban will help to lower children’s exposure to second hand smoke and its associated health risks.

Second-hand smoke is known to contain more than 4,000 chemicals, some of which are known to cause cancer, and in a confined space the smoke can linger in the air for several hours. Public Health Minister, Jane Ellison, said: “Three million children are exposed to second hand smoke in cars, putting their health at risk.”

“We know that many of them feel embarrassed or frightened to ask adults to stop smoking which is why the regulations are an important step in protecting children from the harms of second-hand smoke.”

However, while many support a ban others feel it is an unnecessary intrusion and unenforceable. Director of the smokers’ group Forest, Simon Clark, said the legislation was excessive. “The overwhelming majority of smokers know it’s inconsiderate to smoke in a car with children and they don’t do it. They don’t need the state micro-managing their lives,” he said. “The police won’t be able to enforce the law on their own so the Government will need a small army of snoopers to report people.”

Bans on smoking in cars when children are present already exist in other countries, including some US states, as well as in parts of Canada and Australia

Rachel Kayani

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