Cars carrying children to become smoke-free

In collaboration with the Press Association

New legislation has been announced that will make it illegal to smoke in a vehicle that is carrying a child.

“We’re pleased that the Government is taking action to protect children from inhaling deadly chemicals" - George Butterworth, Cancer Research UK

The new rules are expected to come into force in October 2015, subject to parliamentary approval.

The law would make it an offence to smoke, or to fail to prevent smoking, in a private vehicle with someone under the age of 18 present. 

Public Health Minister Jane Ellison said that second-hand (‘passive’) smoke is a real threat to children’s health and the only way to protect them is to prevent them breathing it.

Children exposed to second-hand smoke are at higher risk of respiratory infections, asthma, bacterial meningitis and cot death. 

And second-hand smoke has been linked to around 165,000 new cases of disease among children in the UK each year.

The British Lung Foundation estimates that 430,000 children are exposed to secondhand smoke in their family car every week.

Health experts welcomed the new rules, but stressed that further measures were necessary to help protect children from tobacco. 

George Butterworth, Cancer Research UK’s tobacco policy manager, said: "Children shouldn’t be exposed to cancer-causing second-hand smoke in any environment, particularly one in which they may be confined for long periods of time. 

“We’re pleased that the Government is taking action to protect children from inhaling deadly chemicals. 

“Now we urge the government to protect children from tobacco marketing by sending regulations for plain, standardised packaging for tobacco products to Parliament without delay. 

“The case has been made – standard packs must be voted on before the election."

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said: “We are delighted that the Government is to press ahead with regulations to prohibit smoking in cars containing children. 

“We also urge the Government to put the regulations on standardised packaging to Parliament before the general election. 

“This, together with the protection of children from second-hand smoke in cars, will help de-normalise smoking and protect children from this deadly addiction.”