A law banning smoking in vehicles carrying under-18s came into force in England and Wales on 1st October. Research by The British Lung Foundation has found that 430,000 children are exposed to second-hand smoke in cars every week, and the new ban aims to reduce the impact of passive smoking on our children’s health.
Many fleets now insist on a complete ban on smoking in vehicles following a law change in 2007 that prevented smoking in vehicles used by more than one employee. The latest law makes it even more important to have a non-smoking policy in place to safeguard employees against on-the-spot fines of £50 for failing to comply, but more importantly to protect young people against the dangers of passive smoking.
The ban applies to both drivers and passengers, whether driving on business or outside of work. Smokers are still liable if the windows are down or the sunroof is open. However it doesn’t apply to convertible cars driven with the roof down, or to people using e-cigarettes.
The Scottish Parliament is expected to consider a similar ban next year.
The facts about passive smoking
- Smoke can stay in the air for up to two and a half hours even with a window open.
- Second-hand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, some of which are known to cause cancer.
- Exposure to second-hand smoke has been strongly linked to chest infections, asthma, ear problems and cot death in children.
- Research shows that 300,000 children in the UK visit a GP each year because of the effects of second-hand smoke, with 9,500 going to hospital.
- Smoking in a car creates a higher concentration of toxins than in a bar – some research has put it at 11 times higher.