The days of smoking in the car with a child present will soon be over. From the 1st of October 2015, drivers will be slapped with a £50 fine lighting up while anyone aged under 18 years old is present.
Only those in a covertible with the roof down, driving alone (obviously) or with those aged 18 and over will be exempt from the law, which is already operating in Wales and is being considered by Scotland.
British Lung Foundation chief executive Dr Penny Woods said the new law was a “tremendous victory”.
“We urge the Government to show the same commitment to introduce standardised packaging for all tobacco products, in order to protect the 200,000 children taking up smoking every year in this country,” she added.
Pro-smoker group director Simon Clark argued it was a step too far. “The overwhelming majority of smokers know it’s inconsiderate to smoke in a car with children and they don’t do it. They don’t need the state micro-managing their lives.
“The police won’t be able to enforce the law on their own so the government will need a small army of snoopers to report people.”
342 MPs voted in favour of the legislation, while 74 voted against in the wake of a six-week government consultation. The Labour government had promised to make the same ammendment to the Children and Families Bill.
Public Health Minister Jane Ellison commented: “Three million children are exposed to second hand smoke in cars, putting their health at risk.
“We know that many of them feel embarrassed or frightened to ask adults to stop smoking which is why the regulations are an important step in protecting children from the harms of secondhand smoke.”
The average cigarette contains more than 4,000 chemicals, a number of which have been linked to cancer. Certain US states already operate a ban on smoking in cars when children are present.
The British Lung Foundation claims more than 430,000 children are exposed to second-hand smoke in cars each week, which can increase the chance of asthma, meningitis and cot death. If true, this is a startling figure that highlights a worrying need to tell people what should be common sense.