What The New Law Means For You – No Smoking In Cars With Kids 12th October 2015 – Posted in: News – Tags: , , ,

As of the 1st of October, it is now against the law for anyone to smoke in a vehicle with a passenger under the age of 18. At present, up to 1 million children are exposed to second hand smoke in cars, putting them at serious risk for asthma, bronchitis, chest and ear infections and more serious illnesses. But how will this new law be enforced, and how will it affect you?

Who Does The Law Affect 

Much like the ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces, this law is more about the place than the person. You are still free to smoke in your car if you are the only person in it, or if all occupants of the car are over the age of 18. However, if a child under the age of 18 is present, you will be breaking the law. This applies to any motorist driving a vehicle wholly or partially enclosed by a roof. It doesn’t just stop there either. If you have a child in your car, you will be fined if seen smoking while the vehicle is parked with the door open, if you are seen smoking out of the window, with the sunroof open or with the air conditioning turned on. In short – any time there is a child under 18 in your car, you can’t smoke.

What Are The Penalties? 

To discourage drivers and passengers from simply ignoring this new law and hoping they won’t get caught, the Government will be enforcing a £50 fine if you are caught smoking in a car with anyone under the age of 18. That’s just if you’re a passenger yourself – if you’re the driver of the car you risk being fined twice if caught.

However officials have said that they will be exercising discretion for the first few months of the laws implementation. Police have been told to opt for an education rather than sanction approach as news of the law spreads, and will be able to decide whether the offence warrants a warning, a fixed penalty notice or even referring to court. Overall, if you know about the law, don’t break it, but officials are being very understanding about the difficulty stopping the daily commute habit.

Are There Any Exceptions?

Of course, like any law, there are a few exceptions. For example if you are driving a convertible with the roof down (and only with the roof down) then you will not be breaking the new law. What is important to note is that e-cigarettes are unaffected by this new law as well, so you can still smoke these on your way to work. Another interesting definition is regarding motor homes and caravans – while they are being used as a vehicle they are covered by this new law and it is illegal to smoke inside them with a child under 18. However when they are being used as a home or living quarters, they are exempt. And finally, 17 year olds found smoking in cars will not be fined, as long as they are alone in the car with no children present.

The implementation of this law will mean a lot of changes for a lot of people, and many were opposed to its implementation. However, the Government has recognised the difference between tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes, and has allowed motorists to continue using e-cigs in their cars. This could very well increase interest in cutting down or quitting smoking, as well as converting thousands of smokers to a healthier way to indulge their addiction with a vapour cigarette.