Smoking in Vehicles Containing Passengers Under 18 to be Made Illegal

From the 1st October 2015, it will be illegal to smoke in a vehicle containing anyone under the age of 18. The new law, implemented by the Department of Health, aims to protect children from the harmful effects of second-hand smoking.


Children are more susceptible to the effects of smoke

Government health agencies estimate that about 200 children per week visit a doctor due to the effects of second-hand smoke in cars. This is extremely worrying as the toxins in cigarette smoke have been linked to diseases such as bronchitis, pneumonia, meningitis and cancer, and can worsen the effects of asthma.

Children are more at risk than adults because, as stated by England’s chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davis: ‘Children breathe faster than adults so they are much more exposed to the dangers of second-hand smoke. Their airways, lungs and immune systems are still developing so are much more at risk from harm.’

The new law

The new law states that it will be illegal to smoke in any private vehicle that contains an underage passenger (or 17-year-old driver) that is fully or partly enclosed by a roof. The law will still apply if the windows or sunroof are open, the air conditioning is on, or if the smoker is sat in the open doorway of a vehicle. These measures are mandatory as over 80% of cigarette smoke is invisible, so even if you think you have taken the necessary precautions to protect children in your vehicle, you are still putting them at risk.

The law does not apply to drivers that are 17 years old and alone in their own vehicles, convertible cars with fully lowered roofs or the use of electronic cigarettes.  

Work vehicles and public transportation are not included under the new law as they are already covered by previous smoke-free legislations.

The consequences

A £50 fine will be issued to the smoker. Drivers will also face the same penalty for allowing the passenger to smoke in the presence of someone under the age of 18, regardless of whether the driver was smoking or not.

Other changes to smoking laws

Also coming into place on the 1st October 2015, new laws state that it will be illegal to sell electronic cigarettes or liquids to anyone under 18, and it will also be illegal for adults to attempt to buy tobacco products or e-cigarettes for someone under 18.


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