The concerns around smoking in private cars have now been formalised, with a law that bans drivers smoking in cars if there is anyone under the age of 18 present. The Children and Families Act of 2014 gave the Secretary of State for Health power to pass the legislation which came into force on 1st October 2015.
Why it has come into force
As well as the obvious health benefits of eliminating the second hand smoke itself, the legislation also takes away the dangerous distraction of lighting a cigarette while driving, something the Highway Code of 2007 advises against.
A study carried out in Taiwan found that the risk of death in a car accident almost doubled for driver who smoked at the wheel.
Meanwhile a Canadian study has shown that through a single cigarette smoked in a car which has its windows closed and is stationary, can produces levels of second hand smoke that is 11 times higher than that found in an average smoking bar.
The immediate effects of inhaling second hand smoke include eye and throat irritation, headache, cough, dizziness and nausea, while over a longer period, repeated exposure can increase the risk of lung cancer, chronic obstructive lung disease, and cardiovascular disease.
The legislation at a glance
• Came into force in England on the 1st October 2015 and is expected to do so in Scotland next year.
• Makes it illegal to smoke in a private car if there are any passengers under the age of 18. If the driver is 17, then no one is permitted to smoke in the car. However a solo 17 year old driver would not be committing an offence.
• The penalty for breaking this law is a £50 fine.
• The 2006 Health Act already banned smoking in cars used for work purposes.
• Under the legislation, the use of e-cigarettes in car is still permitted.
• It includes motor homes and caravans when in transit, but not when stationary.
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