Did you know that smoking in a car with children is illegal? It is, and it has been since 2015. Many motorists seem unfamiliar with this relatively-recent change to the law. So let’s take a closer look at the details.
Smoking in a Car With Children – What Does The Law Say?
“To protect children from the dangers of second hand smoke, it’s now illegal to smoke in cars and other vehicles with someone under 18 present.”
That’s what it said in the Government press release published on 1 October 2015.
That one sentence explains quite a lot. A “child” is defined as “someone under 18”. “Cars and other vehicles” implies that this law extends to vans and lorries.
But there’s still a few things to be aware of.
First, the law doesn’t just prevent the driver from smoking if someone under 18’s present. It’s also an offence to not stop another passenger from smoking in your car with children. And the fine for both offences is £50.
Second, there’s a bit more information about what’s meant by “cars and other vehicles.” The law applies to “any private vehicle enclosed by a roof, even if the window is open, the air conditioning is on or the smoker is sitting in the open doorway of the vehicle.”
This means that the law does not extend to convertibles, so long as the roof’s down when you light up. It also does not apply to e-cigarettes. It’s not illegal to vape in your car, even when there are children around.
At first, smoking in a car with children was only banned in England and Wales. But in 2016, the same law was introduced for Scotland. In Scotland, the penalties for getting caught are much harsher. While in the UK and Wales, the fine is fixed at £50, in Scotland it can be as high as £1,000.
If you’re under 18 and you can drive, it’s legal for you to smoke in your car so long as there’s no other passengers present.
Why Was This Law Introduced?
This law was originally introduced following an experiment by Newcastle University and Fresh Smoke Free North West. They found that, even with a car window open, smoking in a car raises the levels of dangerous chemicals more than 100 times higher than the recommended safety guidelines.
These chemicals include air pollutants and carcinogens such as arsenic, formaldehyde, and tar. This is why inhaling second hand smoke can put children and young people at risk of conditions like meningitis, cancer, bronchitis and pneumonia. They can also make existing asthma cases worse.
Any Other Lesser-Known Laws I Should Know About?
One thing that will never change though – it will always be illegal to drive without car insurance! Make sure you’re covered with a comprehensive car insurance policy that suits your needs.