Smoking in cars with children banned

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To protect children from the dangers of secondhand smoke, it is now illegal to smoke in cars and other vehicles with someone under 18 present.

New legislation in England and Wales makes it illegal to smoke in a vehicle carrying someone who is under 18. It is now also against the law for a driver not to stop someone smoking in these circumstances and the fine for both offences is £50.

The Department of Health said the change in the law is to protect children and young people from the damaging effects of secondhand smoke, “which can put them at risk of serious conditions such as meningitis, cancer, bronchitis and pneumonia, and make asthma worse.”

Professor Dame Sally Davies, England’s chief medical officer, said the legislation “is a landmark in protecting children from secondhand smoke. Smoking just a single cigarette in a vehicle exposes children to high levels of air pollutants and cancer-causing chemicals like arsenic, formaldehyde and tar, and people often wrongly assume that opening a window, or letting in fresh air, will lessen the damage”.

The move follows an experiment by Newcastle University, Public Health England and Fresh Smoke Free North East which revealed that even with a car window open, levels of dangerous chemicals were over 100 times higher than recommended safety guidelines.

Kevin Fenton, national director for health and wellbeing at Public Health England, said the experiment “unearths shocking data, reflecting again that there is no safe way to smoke in a car with a child”.

The new laws do not apply to e-cigarettes (vaping) or convertible cars that have the roof completely down.