A ban on smoking in cars when children are present is likely to be passed before Christmas, with the ban coming into force next October. Under the planned law, car drivers will face fixed penalty fines of £60 or points on their licence if anyone in the car is found to be smoking while children are on board. Drivers who dispute the charge in court could face fines of up to £10,000 if found guilty, whilst passengers would get a lesser fine of £800.
Smokers’ rights campaigners have called the proposals “disappointing” and pointless, as few drivers smoke when children are present. They have also warned that smoking in the home will be the anti-tobacco lobby’s next target.
In January of this year Parliamentarians backed an amendment to the Children and Families Act by a ratio of 2:1, giving the Health Secretary new powers to move a ban on smoking in cars. It was a decision whose “time had come”, according to Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, but his Deputy, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg disagreed, calling the move illiberal, and said that it sought to “sub-contract responsible parenting to the state”.
Following that vote, the Department for Health has been consulting on the proposed changes ahead of a vote on their introduction, predicted to take place in mid-December. The consultation documents explains that “under the proposed regulations, existing smoke-free legislation as set out in the Health Act 2006 will be extended, so that it would be an offence to: – smoke in a private vehicle with someone under age 18 present; and – fail to prevent smoking in a private vehicle with someone under age 18 present.”
Under the plans, drivers will be liable to be issued with a fixed penalty charge of £60 if caught either smoking with children present, or for allowing passengers to smoke when children are present. If the case goes to court, drivers will leave themselves liable to a maximum fine of £10,000 for drivers who fail to prevent someone else smoking, or £800 for a passenger caught smoking, according to the Daily Mail.
Anti-tobacco lobby group ASH is strongly supporting the proposal, giving four reasons for opposing smoking in cars: “Firstly, there is the harm to the smoker from inhaling tobacco smoke. Secondly, there is harm to other occupants of the vehicle from inhaling second-hand smoke.
“Thirdly, there is the potential harm that children will perceive smoking to be normal adult behaviour. Fourthly, there is potential harm to the driver, passengers and other road users from the driver’s temporary loss of control of the vehicle when lighting or extinguishing a cigarette.”
They cite a study undertaken in Taiwan which showed that smoking in cars “almost doubled car death risk”.
But smokers right campaigners are unconvinced. Simon Clarke, director of Forest told Breitbart London “We’re disappointed. There was no need to legislate because these days very few people smoke in a car with children.
“The overwhelming majority of adults know it’s inconsiderate so what’s the point of yet another law designed to tarnish all smokers with the same brush?
“Worryingly this marks a significant intrusion by the state into people’s private space. A ban on smoking in the home will be the next target.
“Politicians seem to think they can micro manage every aspect of our lives. The Coalition promised a common sense approach but they’re no different to the previous government which is why so many people are turning to Ukip.”
Meanwhile, despite strong opposition to e-cigarettes by the European and British governments, the product is set to be advertised on British television today. It will be the first advert showing someone smoking in 50 years, following a ban on advertising cigarettes on British television passed in 1965. A ban on all tobacco advertising followed in 2002, the Telegraph has reported.
E-cigarettes, however, do not contain tobacco. Instead they use a nicotine-containing liquid to mimic the effects of smoking, releasing water vapour as a by-product. Consequently, a ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority will allow adverts for e-cigarettes to be broadcast after the watershed, from today.
The first advert is expected to air during the first commercial break in the ITV show Grantchester. Two versions have been made, a 10 second and a 20 second version, both featuring a woman ehailing vapour from an e-cigarette.
Forest’s Simon Clarke told Breitbart London “There’s no reason for e-cigarettes to be over-regulated because there’s no evidence they are harmful and little evidence non-smokers are using them.
“E-cigs are a nicotine delivery product. Nicotine is no more harmful than caffeine. E-cigarettes have the potential to wean millions of smokers off cigarettes but for that to happen they have to be marketed in a way that makes them attractive to smokers.
“Instead some public health campaigners want to suffocate the product with unnecessary rules and regulations. Thankfully, with regard to advertising, the government has adopted a more sensible attitude which we applaud.”