A new law, that will see drivers fined £50 for smoking with children in the car, is set to come into force at the end of next year. The fine will also be imposed on drivers that allow other passengers to smoke when a child is present. Campaigners have welcomed the new law, pointing to the dangers of passive smoking especially in such a confined space, as the primary reason why it is such a bad idea.
Currently, although parents and drivers are advised against it, adults are not prohibited from smoking in a car when a child is present. Health experts have said that it is one of the worst environments for passive smoking because of the confined nature of the vehicle interior, and they have said that even opening a window does not help to prevent children from breathing the potentially killer smoke particles that are exhaled.
The new law would mean that parents, carers, and any adults that are driving a car would be prevented from smoking while children were in the car. Anybody found to be flouting the law would be fined £50, and if it is the passenger of a car that is smoking, then the driver can also be fined £50 for allowing them to light up in the presence of children.
Public sentiment is behind the proposed new law, with even the majority of smokers backing the introduction. However, pro smoking lobby groups have warned against the move, asking the question of whether we really want to criminalise the act of lighting a cigarette while in a privately owned and maintained vehicle.
The idea of the ban was first put forward by Labour, and won considerable backing when it was debated in the House of Commons. A YouGov poll also showed that public sentiment was behind the ban, and it is believed that it will come into force in October 2015. The government has said that it is considering similar changes in Scotland and Wales, while Northern Ireland has said that it is also considering banning the practice.