Smoking in cars with children under 18 is now ILLEGAL in England and Wales!
1st October 2015 was the day four new laws came into force in England and Wales; consumer law changed making it easier for retailers and shoppers to understand with the most important change being shoppers now being able to return a faulty item within 30 days for a full refund, if you rent your home your landlord must legally provide smoke alarms on all floors and a carbon monoxide alarm in all rooms with solid fuel burning appliances, the third law will please a lot of motorists as if you park in a private car park you are now entitled to a ten minute grace period after your ticket runs out before a fine can be issued (this already applies to council run car parks), but the biggest and probably most publicised new law is it is now illegal to smoke in a car with a child under the age of 18 and results in a fixed penalty notice for the driver and smoker! So will the ban on smoking in cars reduce children breathing in second-hand smoke?
So why has this law been introduced?
The British Lung Foundation state that “more than 430,000 children are exposed to second-hand smoke in the family car each week.”
Secondhand smoke has been linked to asthma, chest infections, ear infections and cot death and an increase in GP visits due to problems thought to be as a result of secondhand smoke.
So what does that mean?
This law has been introduced to protect children from the dangers of secondhand smoke.
Police can now issue a £50 fixed penalty notice (reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days or can rise to £200 if goes to court and you are found guilty) to the driver and any passenger that is smoking in the car with a child under the age of 18. If it a passenger who is smoking the driver will also be fined for allowing it. The excuse of the windows or sunroof are open does not apply. If you drive a convertible and have the roof down the law will not apply.
The law also doesn’t apply to anybody smoking an electronic cigarette (vaping) although it may be difficult to tell at first so you may find yourself pulled over to check.
If you have a motorhome, campervan or caravan the law is slightly different; while being used as a vehicle the law applies but when being used as living accommodation the law does not apply.
The tricky part will be enforcing this law and for the first three months or so police and local authorities will have the option to educate and issue warnings rather than fine straightaway.
The law applies:
- to any private vehicle that is enclosed wholly or partly by a roof
- when people have the windows or sunroof open, or the air conditioning on
- when someone sits smoking in the open doorway of a vehicle
The law does not apply to:
- e-cigarettes (vaping)
- a driver who is 17 years old if they are on their own in the car (without a child present)
- a convertible car with the roof completely down
Anything to protect children’s health has to be a great thing and should be embraced although people are going argue that the car is their personal property and they should be able to do as they please within it.
Will the police be able or want to enforce this new law is a different matter, with police forces undergoing budget cuts and reports of police officers not being able to attend anything but the most serious of crimes will they have the time are resources to stop people for smoking in their vehicles? Only time will tell!
If you are interested in giving up smoke you can always see your GP for help or visit www.nhs.uk/smokefree.