The ban on smoking in cars is coming – here’s what you need to know

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Smoking in car


Legislation surrounding smoking in vehicles is changing. From the 1st October it will be illegal to smoke in a private vehicle when carrying passengers under the age of 18.

Private vehicles must be smoke free if they are enclosed and if one or more passengers is under the age of 18. E-cigarettes will not be part of this update to legislation.


Why is the law being updated? 

The legislation is being updated in an effort to protect young people from the effects of second hand smoke.

Breathing in second-hand smoke places children at risk of developing long-term health conditions such as meningitis, cancer and respiratory infections. For those already suffering with asthma smoke inhalation can worsen the condition.

It is reported that in excess of 80% of smoke is invisible and opening a window doesn’t resolve the issue.


What if a passenger is smoking and somebody under 18 is in the same vehicle?

The driver is relied upon to ensure that passengers do not smoke in the same vehicle as somebody aged under 18. Responsibility is also the same in the case of provisional drivers.

It must be considered that this legislation has been introduced to protect passengers. Therefore, if you are aged 17 and are smoking in a vehicle on your own will not have broken the law.


What vehicles are covered by this update to legislation?

The legislation concerns any public vehicle that is ‘enclosed’. An enclosed vehicle is one that is surrounded wholly or partially by a roof. Irrespective of whether a vehicle features a sunroof, albeit open or closed, it is still seen as enclosed and covered by legislation.

Working vehicles are already covered by legislation ensuring a smoke free environment.

Motor home and camper van owners are covered by the legislation when in transit in ‘vehicle’ mode. However, when the vehicle is being used as living accommodation legislation doesn’t apply.


What if legislation isn’t followed?

If you are found to have broken the vehicle smoking law a fixed penalty of £50 will be issued.


If you want to know more about this update to smoking legislation watch the video created by the Department of Health.

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