Opponents Say Ban Is Another Example Of The Nanny State
Fines of up to £10,000 could be imposed on people who allow smoking in cars carrying children.
There will be a £50 fixed penalty or five penalty points on the driving licence for anyone caught smoking in a car carrying children and failure to prevent smoking in the vehicle.
The maximum £10,000 fine will be paid by people who end up in court having failed to take ‘reasonable steps’ to prevent others smoking in cars with children.
Details of the new law are expected to be unveiled by ministers in December and could be in force by October of next year.
The new law will apply to anyone carrying children in a car, not just parents.
The suggested law change will be made under the provisions of the Children and Families Act and follows a vote by Liberal Democrat MPs in February.
A Department of Health survey found 300,000 children a year visited GPs in England every year with problems linked to second-hand smoke.
The proposed ban has received support from health groups but has been criticised as another piece of legislation from the nanny state by pro-smokers.
Campaigners support law change
Amanda Sandford, Information Manager at Action on Smoking and Health, said: “We are pleased that the Government is planning to press ahead with the ban on smoking in cars when children are present.
“This will give vulnerable children much needed protection from secondhand tobacco smoke which currently results in thousands of children being treated for asthma and other respiratory diseases.
“But we’d like the Government to go further and commit to a review of the law to ban smoking in all cars so that adults as well as children will be protected from the detrimental effects of breathing in other people’s tobacco smoke.”
A spokesman for the British Heart Foundation, which supports the new proposals, said: “Passive smoke is a cause of short- and long-term illness in others and is particularly harmful to children – especially in enclosed spaces.
“It can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, and other health problems such as asthma and meningitis.
“Passive smoke negatively impacts on children and can also influence their habits in the future – children who are exposed to smoking in their homes are more likely to smoke than those who are brought up in smoke-free environments.”
Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “With almost half a million children being exposed to second-hand smoke in the family car every week, we wholeheartedly support the government’s commitment to introduce a ban on smoking in cars with children.”
However, Simon Clark, director of Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco (FOREST), said this proposed legislation was another example of the “nanny state”.
He said: “A ban is excessive and unnecessary.
“Smoking in cars with children has been in decline for years. Today very few people do it because the overwhelming majority of smokers accept that it’s inconsiderate.”
Poll: ban smoking in cars carrying children
A YouGov poll in 2014 found that 77% of adults in Great Britain agreed that smoking should be banned in cars carrying children younger than 18 years of age, including 63% of smokers.
The YouGov poll also revealed that 46% agreed that smoking should be banned in all cars.
A similar poll conducted by YouGov in 2013 found that even among smokers, smoking was rare with only one in seven (15%) smokers with children reporting that smoking was allowed in the vehicle at any time.
An international review of surveys from North America, the UK and Australasia found a majority (76%) of the public supported the introduction of smoke-free car laws. In four of the jurisdictions examined (Victoria, California, New Zealand, and South Australia) levels of public support were in excess of 90%.
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