The days of children suffering in smoke-bound cars will end on October 1 in the latest effort to reduce lung disease among youngsters. From next month it will be illegal to smoke in a vehicle when anyone under the age of 18 is present.
According to the British Lung Foundation, more than 43,000 children are exposed to smoke in cars every week. As with any enclosed space, the toxic chemicals from cigarette smoke become concentrated in a car, even with the windows down. Now, thanks to new legislation, smokers will be hit with a £50 fine if they are caught lighting up with a minor in the vehicle. Convertible cars with the roof down will be exempt from the ban, and those in need of a nicotine fix will still be able to puff away on electronic cigarettes.
Gerry Bucke, general manager at Flux, said many people could remember sitting as children in the back seat of the car, hemmed in while parents turned the car into a densely-fogged health hazard. “Smoking was commonplace in cars – most cars had fixed ashtrays in the front and back seats – and often youngsters would go from smoke-filled living rooms at home into smoke-filled cars on the road,” he added.
“But since smoking was banned in places like pubs, shops and offices, primarily to protect people from second-hand smoke, this change in the law has been coming for a while.
“There’ll be some resistance from those who believe their car is their own private space, but with increased awareness of respiratory disorders from passive smoking – particularly among children – it’s hard to dispute that the ban is welcome.
“It will reduce the amount of GP and hospital admissions for smoking-related illnesses in children, which can only be a positive thing.”