Smoking Ban in Cars from October 1st
With the popularity of e-cigarettes rising rapidly, there have been a number of changes to the law to make things clearer for smokers and retailers alike. As of October 1st, it is now illegal to smoke in a vehicle with anyone under the age of 18 present. The UK parliament voted to support the ban in February 2015, and then shortly after, the Welsh government voted to bring the ban to Wales, too. At present, the campaign to bring the ban to Scotland and Northern Ireland continues.
Every year, the second hand smoke that children are exposed to is the cause of over 300,000 GP visits a year and approximately 10,000 hospital visits. When smoking occurs in enclosed environments, like cars, the exposure to secondhand smoke is magnified. This exposure can occur even when the windows are down and the air conditioning is turned on, which shows just how dangerous it can be. Over 80% of cigarette smoke is invisible, so while it may look like there are a few wisps of smoke travelling around the car, the reality is that there are toxic chemicals that cannot be seen floating around when you smoke. Prolonged exposure to this can put children at risk of serious illness.
If found guilty of smoking in the car with a person under 18 years old present, the smoker and the driver of the vehicle could be fined £50. The law applies to vehicles that are enclosed by a roof (even if the sunroof is open), if the windows are open, if the air conditioning is on or even if the smoker sits in the doorway of the vehicle while the door is open. If the roof on a convertible car is completely down, then the law does not apply to drivers and smokers in that vehicle. Similarly, the law does not cover e-cigarettes, either.
The law does not apply to motorhomes and caravans if they are being used as living accommodation, but if they are on the road then the law applies as usual. Work vehicles and public transport are already covered by smoke free legislation so they are not covered by this change in law.
As well as being a serious health risk to smokers and those around them, smoking can be a distraction while driving, too. So this ban may help reduce the risk of GP visits induced by secondhand smoke as well as improve drivers’ concentration on the roads.
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