Not only is the government considering fines for drivers that smoke while children are in the car, but it has also been reported that the owner of a car may be fined as much as £10,000 if a passenger lights up in front of the children. The passenger themselves would only receive a fine of up to £800, and the fine would be administered unless the driver can prove that they did everything possible to prevent their passenger from smoking.
Smoking in cars is considered a health risk to all passengers, and while adults have a choice whether to get in a car with a smoker or not, children are less fortunate. They are, essentially, forced to inhale second hand smoke, and it has been proven that even opening the windows while having a cigarette will not help to remove all of the dangerous smoke particles. The confined space of the car interior also prevents the children from escaping the onslaught of smoke.
The health concerns have led many groups to call for change. Parenting, health, and child safety groups have lobbied for some time to make it illegal to smoke while there are children in the car, and it seems that the government are listening, and not only in England. Wales looks set to be the first to ban smoking in cars when children are present, but fining the owner of a car for letting a passenger smoke is taking it another step.
There are critics that are against the new plans, although most are not against the actual banning of smoking. Some groups believe that the police will not have the time or inclination to walk down a row of cars checking who is smoking and who isn’t, and then determining whether there are any children in the car.
According to the proposals, the police would be able to issue a £50 fine for smoking with under-18s in the car, and another for allowing it to happen. If the case goes to court, the smoker could receive a fine of up to £800 and the driver or owner of the vehicle a fine of as much as £10,000.