Smoking ban in cars carrying children could start in October
Clive Gee/PA Archive
Drivers could be banned from smoking in cars that are carrying under-18s if laws proposed by MPs are introduced. The new legislation could mean that those smoking in cars carrying children, or failing to stop others from smoking, would be fined £50.
Politicians are set to vote on these new plans prior to next year's election. Should the new laws be passed, they would be effective from October 1. This latest move to protect children from second-hand smoke follows a free vote in Parliament at the start of the year, which gave MPs the authority to put the law in place, though it didn't force them to introduce it.
The effects of smoking can be particularly profound on children, with second-hand smoke increasing the likelihood of asthma, chest infections, cot death and ear problems, reports the BBC. The smoke contains thousands of chemicals, some of which have been proven to cause cancer, and it has been blamed for 300,000 children visiting their GPs every year, with nearly 10,000 of these having to go to hospital.
Public health minister Jane Ellison told the BBC: "Second-hand smoke is a real threat to children's health and we want them to grow up free from the risks of smoking.
"The only effective way to protect children is to prevent them breathing second-hand smoke and our plans to stop smoking in cars carrying children will help us to do this."
In-car smoking has been deemed particularly dangerous as smoke can remain in the car air for more than two hours – even if a window is open. The concentration of toxins can also reach higher levels than in a bar, with some researchers suggesting a figure of 11 times higher. As a result, smoking in cars carrying children is already illegal in California along with several other US states and parts of Australia and Canada.
A similar ban has also been suggested in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.