Smoking Ban Targets Cars With Child Passengers: Great Idea Or Overreach?

A controversial smoking ban in England is now law, and it will target cars in which children are passengers. The law will be effective October 1, and according to the BBC, it follows a similar ban that was enacted in Wales.

Scotland is also entertaining a similar smoking ban at this time.

Many anti-smoking organizations were pleased with the decision, including the British Lung Foundation. Dr. Penny Woods, a representative of the organization, called it a “tremendous victory” and had this to add.

“We urge the Government to show the same commitment to introduce standardised packaging for all tobacco products, in order to protect the 200,000 children taking up smoking every year in this country…. We are certain that these measures together will prove to be two of the most significant milestones for public health since the smoke-free legislation of 2007.”

Jane Ellison, Public Health Minister, also celebrated the decision.

“Three million children are exposed to second hand smoke in cars, putting their health at risk…. We know that many of them feel embarrassed or frightened to ask adults to stop smoking which is why the regulations are an important step in protecting children from the harms of secondhand smoke.”

While there are clear complications that can arise for children who are exposed to secondhand smoke — asthma, meningitis, and SIDS to name a few — not everyone was happy with the decision.

Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, found the legislation to be excessive.

“The overwhelming majority of smokers know it’s inconsiderate to smoke in a car with children and they don’t do it. They don’t need the state micro-managing their lives…. The police won’t be able to enforce the law on their own so the government will need a small army of snoopers to report people.”

Pat Nurse (pictured above), a smoker since the age of eight, echoed those complaints in comments to the news site.

“This is not about protecting children,” she said. “It’s using children as human shields and exploiting people’s children to push through a political agenda, which is ultimately the eradication of tobacco by any means even if it means criminalizing consumers and actually preventing them from enjoying a legal product in what is actually their own property.”

Nurse believes that it’s only a matter of time before the government intrusion enters into people’s homes, which to her isn’t all that different from their automobiles.

“My home is my castle, my car is my castle. If you don’t like smoking, fine. Don’t get in my car. It’s as simple as that.”

Except now it’s not as simple as that. But what do you think, readers? Did Wales and England overreach when they enacted this type of smoking ban, or was it needed to protect children? Sound off in our comments section.