Car smoking ban now in place

On October 1st a new law was introduced, it is now against the law to smoke in a vehicle whilst others in the car are under the age of 18. The new law aims to protect children from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

The law isn't so simple though, for example if the thing being smoked is an e-cigarette, the roof is down on a convertible or the driver is 17 and on their own; in all of these circumstance the law does not apply. Drivers and passengers can be fined if they are smoking with the car parked and the door open, or if they are smoking in the car with the window open.

The police have the power to issue a £50 on-the-spot fine. The fine is given to the smoker but if the driving is the one smoking then the fine can be issued twice.

There have been reports from the Police Federation that during the first three months of the ban police will turn a blind eye to offenders, and favour an ‘education not prosecution’ approach.

Jayne Willetts of the Police Federation of England and Wales said, 
‘Making this an offence that officers are expected to enforce just creates an unnecessary extra layer of bureaucracy. With resources being cut, no Force can prioritise their hard-pressed police officers’ time for this.

‘It brings us back to the whole problem of police being “everything for everyone” and, now, health workers. 

‘Meanwhile, we are struggling to find resources to stop crimes that have a much more dramatic impact on victims. 

‘Police officers should be spending more time being what they are: police officers.’ 

According to Public Health England, 3 million children are exposed to secondhand smoke in a car and around 200 of them have to visit their GP every week because of issues related to smoking.

Prof Neena Modi, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said, ‘The passing of this law is an important milestone not only for child health but also for their future health as adults. This, coupled with the implementation of standardised tobacco packaging next year, sends a clear message that smoking is not cool - it kills.

‘A ban on smoking in cars will help safeguard the 300,000 children or more, going to their GP with smoking related illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia. It will also go some way to help reduce sudden infant deaths and asthma, which have strong links to passive smoking.

‘Children are victims of smoke in enclosed spaces. Smoke in cars is up to 11 times more concentrated than even in a smoky bar; today’s move will bring huge benefit to the health of children in England and Wales.’

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