Stoptober wouldn't be Stoptober with some big news in the fight against smoking addiction. And this year has been no different. On the 1st October 2015 it became illegal for adults to smoke in a vehicle carrying children under the age of 18 across England and Wales. While it might seem obvious that the risks of second-hand smoke are significantly increased in the confined space of a car, the government's move has now taken strict steps to enforce this principle.
Why has the law come into place?
The law has been introduced to minimise the devastating effects that second-hand smoke has on children. In the UK, some 3 million children are exposed to the concoction of poisonous chemicals found in cigarette smoke each year. Doctors say when a child breathes in these chemicals they are being put at risk of serious health conditions such as: meningitis, cancer, bronchitis, pneumonia and other lung and breathing conditions.
A recent experiment carried out by the BBC determined that children are exposed to toxic smoke that is more than 235 times the safe level when inhaled in the confined space of a car. Even when a smoker rolls the window of the vehicle down, the toxicity levels are still typically found to be 100 times above the safe level.
Who does the law apply to?
The law applies to any individual, driver or passenger, found smoking in a car with a minor under the age of 18 present. If you are smoking in the car and are 17 years old you will not be fined, as long as there are no children present. Regardless of whether the car is active or stationary, the law is still enforceable.
The new legislation is also applicable to cars with open windows and sunroof, if the smoker is sat with the door open in an outward facing position, or if the air conditioning is on. However, it is legal to smoke in a convertible car, as long as the roof is fully reclined.
Motorhomes and caravans are also covered by the new legislation while being used as a vehicle, but are exempt only when being used as stationary living spaces.
The law does not currently ban the use of e-cigarettes in cars. However, the health implications and safety of these types of cigarettes is still unknown, so it is not recommended to use them around children.
How much could I be fined?
The standard fine for smoking in a car carrying minors currently stands at £50 in both England and Wales. This sum will be reduced to £30 if paid within two weeks. If the conviction is disputed and the case goes to magistrates’ court, the smoker in question could be fined up to £200.
While police are insisting they’ll be taking a non-confrontational approach to the situation in the short term, it has been strongly recommended that all smokers heed these warnings to avoid risking a brush with the law.
This grace period is expected to last around 3 months. That’s enough time to get you well on the way to becoming completely smoke-free.
If you want to be one of the thousands of people who are currently quitting smoking for Stoptober, contact Express Pharmacy today for a free chat with one of our NHS cession advisors.