From 1st October, a new law which makes it illegal to smoke in a car if there are children under the age of 18 present has been introduced. While ministers voted overwhelmingly in favour of the ban, and health lobbyists and health groups have hailed the introduction of the law as common sense and in the best interests of children, there are many critics that say that the law will not be enforceable, and some police groups have even said that they are not employed as health workers and will not be enforcing the law.
According to a recent poll of motorists conducted by the RAC, motorists themselves mirror these thoughts as 92% of those questioned said that they did not believe that the police would actively enforce the new rule.
The law means that anybody that is caught smoking in a car when children are present can be hit with a £50 fixed penalty, although paying within two weeks means that the fine will be reduced. If the person caught is not the driver of the vehicle, then the driver will also receive the same level of fine. If the case goes to court, the fine could prove to be much higher.
However, certain groups have said that it is an impractical law to enforce. Not only do police, who often only have a second or two to look into a car and may have their view obscured by other passengers and even by the car itself, have to determine whether a person in the car is smoking but they also need to ascertain whether any of the passengers that are also in the car are aged under 18.
Health groups have said that they suspect that the law will be enforced but only in cases where people are found to have committed the offence when they have been pulled over for other offences, while some experts have said that the overwhelming support for the law means that it will become self-policing, in much the same way as smoking bans elsewhere have.