On October 1st 2015, a landmark change in the law will come in to play relating to smoking in cars. It will become illegal to smoke in a vehicle where children under the age of 18 are present.

In favour of the ban

According to an article in the Telegraph back in February, more than 700 senior doctors backed the legal ban last year. When MPs voted, 342 decided they were in favour of the ban, compared to just 74 MPs voting against it. In an AA-Populus survey of AA members in 2014 70% of the 18,336 respondents supported these changes to the law.

The same Telegraph article quoted the British Lung Foundation, who said that an estimated 430,000 children are exposed to second-hand smoke in their family car every week. According to Gov.uk’s recent news story on smoking in vehicles, “every time a child breathes in secondhand smoke, they breathe in thousands of chemicals.” They explain that these chemicals can put children at risk of conditions like cancer, pneumonia and bronchitis, as well as making things like asthma worse. Bans on children driving in cars are already in place in a number of US states, such as California, as well as in parts of Australia and Canada.

Changes to be made

This has led to the decision to make it illegal to smoke in a car, or other vehicle, which is carrying anyone under the age of 18. The changes will apply to every driver in England and Wales, including people with a provisional licence. If people are caught breaking this new law both the driver and the person smoking could be fined £50.

According to The AA the rules do not apply to e-cigarettes, and won’t apply to a convertible car if the roof is completely down. It does however still apply if you have windows or a sunroof open or if you have the air conditioning on. Gov.uk clarifies that the law also will not be enforced if the driver is 17 years old and is on their own in the car.

A step in the right direction

Public Health Minister, Jane Ellison, told BBC News that three million children are exposed to second-hand smoke in cars, which can put 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,” she said.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies was quoted in the previously mentioned Telegraph article as saying: “The passing of regulations to make smoking in cars carrying under 18s illegal is a significant victory for protecting children’s health from second-hand smoke. Smoking just a single cigarette in a car exposes children to high levels of air pollutants and cancer-causing chemicals like arsenic, formaldehyde and tar.”

Do you think that banning people from smoking in cars carrying children is a good thing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.