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Car Smoking Ban To Be Enforced

By raccars Published

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A law banning smoking in cars carrying children will be passed by the end of the year, to be implemented in October 2015. Details are to be revealed by health ministers in December, after MPs supported a proposal for legislation in February. The law is to apply to anyone driving with children, even if they are not the parents.

Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs voted in the landmark law in February this year, which will see a £60 fine and licence penalty points used to punish offenders. The controversial law was supported by Prime Minister David Cameron, but opposed by his Liberal Democrat counterpart, Nick Clegg, who deemed the policy unenforceable and illiberal. Advocates claim the law is necessary to protect children from the damaging effects of smoking in cars, while murmurings about the 'nanny state' have been heard from critics. However, the bill giving Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt the power to pass the law was voted for by a majority of 269.

The law is being implemented under the aegis of the Children and Families Act. Police are to be able to enforce the law by issuing a fixed penalty notice of £50, both for the smoker and for other adult occupants of the car, who fail to stop the offending smoker. Small print details being ironed out include the possibility that, should cases proceed to court, drivers who neglect to prevent other passengers from lighting up when a child is in the car, could be subject to fines of £10,000, a far more severe penalty than the potential maximum for the smoking passenger himself, at £800. Drivers or car owners will need to show that 'reasonable steps' were taken to prevent another adult from smoking around child passengers, to avoid being charged.

A 2012 YouGov poll showed eight out of ten adults supported a ban on smoking in cars carrying children, including 65% of smokers, but Forest, a smoking group, believes that the practice is declining organically and that a ban is a heavy handed way to deal with the problem.

Anti-smoking campaigners have long urged the government to bring regulations into force, as the enclosed environment of a car can potentially amplify the concentration of tobacco very quickly, to 11 times higher than in an open space. A survey by the Department of Health, found that every year 300,000 children visit a doctor with health issues related to second hand smoking, such as respiratory infections, including pneumonia, asthma attacks and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

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