UK Finally Bans Smoking in Cars with Children Present
By: Leila Glen
Last updated: 14 August 2015
According to The British Lung Foundation, more than 400,000 children every week are exposed to second hand smoke due to travelling with smoking parents in cars. It’s no surprise then, that discussions with a view to banning smoking in cars with passengers under 18 years of age have been on going for a while now.
After a break through vote in the House of Commons, the ban was finally passed and the new law will be implemented on 1st October 2015. As of this date, under an amendment to the ‘Children and Families Bill’ it will become illegal to smoke in a car that is carrying under 18’s as passengers, and anyone breaking the law could be fined £50. The UK is the next in a line of Commonwealth countries to jump on the bandwagon, following Wales, parts of the US, Canada and Australia. Scotland is also thought to be considering a similar course of action.
Public opinion on the matter is mixed. Although the law have received widespread support, there is a small minority arguing that it is an intrusion into family life, with some going as far as to say it may constitute a breach of human rights – specifically article 8 ‘Right to a Private and Family Life’.
Others worry that a fine of just £50 won’t be enough of a deterrent, hence the law will be largely ignored.
MP’s however seemed very much in favour – with an overwhelming majority voting for the passing of the new law. The huge dangers associated with passive smoking have been well-known for a long while now, so the passing of a law such as this seems like the next logical step.
According to ASH (Action on Smoking and Health), 'exposure to second-hand smoke in confined spaces such as a car is particularly hazardous' – children being forced to inhale the smoke in a close proximity has led many to question why it was ever allowed in the first place, and indeed why it took so long for this law to be implemented.
It has been proven that young children and babies especially have a greater risk of contracting a chest infection and developing asthma or meningitis due to exposure to passive smoke. Cot deaths are also more prevalent in houses where one or both parents is a smoker – this law has been put in place to protect those who cannot protect themselves.