It is now illegal to smoke in private vehicles with a child under the age of 18 present.
The Government outlawed the habit on 1 October 2015 in a bid to protect young people from inhaling the dangerous chemicals found in cigarettes.
Smoking in enclosed public spaces is already against the law following the 2007 legislation to help protect members of the public from second-hand smoke.
Admiral recently surveyed 2,000 UK drivers, in it, 42.7% of men admitted to puffing on a cigarette while driving and 22.76% of females said they had.
Rules on smoking in private vehicles
As of 1 October it’s now illegal to light up a cigarette in an enclosed private vehicle if someone under the age of 18 is present.
It is also illegal for a driver (including a provisional driver) not to stop a passenger from smoking if a child is present.
Both offences carry a £50 fine but police can choose to refer the offence to court.
Are there any exceptions?
Yes, there are. The rules don’t apply to:
- Convertibles with the roof down and stowed
- 17-year-olds who choose to smoke in a private vehicle alone
The legislation covers any private vehicle that is enclosed wholly or partly by a roof, so while a convertible with its roof down isn’t covered by the law; a car with its sunroof open is still classed as enclosed and therefore part of the new law.
And smoking in the car with the door open won’t cut it either, if caught, you’ll be fined.
Another exception to the rule is a 17-year-old who chooses to smoke in a private vehicle if they are alone. The rule states the private vehicle must be smoke-free when carrying more than one person under the age of 18, so a 17-year-old smoking alone won’t be committing an offence.
Motor homes and caravans
The same rules apply to motor homes, campervans and caravans when they are being used as a vehicle but not when they’re used as accommodation.
Work vehicles and public transport are covered under separate smoke-free legislation.
Why is the law changing?
The Government says: "Every time a child breathes in second-hand smoke, they breathe in thousands of chemicals. This puts them at risk of serious conditions, such as meningitis, cancer and respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. It can also make asthma worse.
"Second-hand smoke is dangerous for anyone, but children are especially vulnerable, because they breathe more rapidly and have less developed airways, lungs and immune systems. Over 80% of cigarette smoke is invisible and opening windows does not remove its harmful effect.
"The law is changing to protect children and young people from such harm."