Motorists and passengers in England and Wales will be breaking the law from tomorrow if they smoke in a vehicle carrying a person under 18. From 1 October 2015, they face fixed penalty of £50 – with drivers at risk of being fined twice if they have failed to stop a passenger smoking and are smoking themselves.

The chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, said: “Children breathe faster than adults so they are much more exposed to the dangers of second-hand smoke. Their airways, lungs and immune systems are still developing so are much more at risk from harm.

“We want children to grow up free from harm and we need parents to understand why smoking in vehicles is so dangerous. 80% of smoke is invisible so even if you think you are being careful you cannot see where the smoke is going.”

The action group Ash UK state that, Smoking in cars causes harm in several ways. Firstly, there is the harm to the smoker from inhaling tobacco smoke. Secondly, there is harm to other occupants of the vehicle from inhaling secondhand 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.

Levels of secondhand smoke in cars can be extremely high because of the restricted area in which the smoke is circulated and can reach levels far higher than those experienced in buildings.

Source: The Guardian & ASH UK