As of today, it’s illegal to smoke in cars carrying anyone under 18. The new law applies to England and Wales initially, with Scotland and Northern Ireland to consider their respective approaches in the near future.
A fine of £50 will be charged to anyone disobeying the law, but according to a BBC report, the authorities have stated that they will be taking a “non-confrontational approach” to enforcement. It’s not completely clear what this will mean in practice – in some circles people believe it means that the law won’t actually be enforced.
Even so, the law should emphasise people’s moral duty not to expose children to second-hand smoke in their cars. Although one would assume most smokers would refrain from lighting up in cars with their children, the British Lung Foundation state that nearly half a million under-18s have to share cars with smokers each week.
Two exceptions apply to the law: one is an exemption for convertibles with the roof open, and another for e-cigarettes, which produce vapour rather than smoke.
It remains to be seen just how seriously drivers and police will take this new legislation. In the BBC report, the Police Federation chairman states that the police are “struggling to attend burglaries” with their current resources. One wonders, on that basis, how they’re going to have the time to catch people having a cheeky cigarette in their own cars, even if the well-intentioned law is intended to protect the health of children.
IMAGE CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons