Citizens of England who enjoy smoking while driving between destinations are no longer allowed to puff on their favorite cigarette brand while children are in the vehicle.
The new law aims to protect children from the dangers of second-hand smoke, according to CBS News. The ban on smoking in cars with children present went into effect on Thursday and is expected to be enforced softly as drivers get used to it. The National Police Chief’s Council provided detail on the enforcement policy.
“This would see people being given warnings rather than being issued with fines.”
According to Metro, offenders may be issued a £50 fine for disobeying the law.
Groups against smoking have declared victory for the children who are helpless in the situation, given no choice to avoid the second-hand smoke. Penny Woods, the chief of the British Lung Foundation, is one of those individuals.
“Today is truly a cause for celebration for all those who care about protecting the health of generations to come.”
Advocates for smoking feel that the law is not enforceable, claiming there is no way to tell whether an individual was smoking before or while a child was in the car, unless blatantly caught in the act. Even then, they may claim that they were simply holding the cigarette in their hands or between their lips.
Some officers feel the law is giving them more work that is not needed. Steve White, Chairman of the Police Federation, feels that policing a cigarette offender is simply not his priority.
“The reality of the situation is we are struggling to attend burglaries. Should we be focusing on people smoking in cars with children in the cars or should we be focusing on burglaries?”
He added that it is ultimately up to the public to decide what is more important for the police to tackle.
“The public need to decide what it is that they want their police service to do because we are at breaking point. We simply can’t be all things to all people.”
According to the new anti-smoking law, a child is anyone in the car under the age of 18. The law is in effect regardless of whether windows are rolled down or a sunroof is open. The law does not apply if the occupants are in a convertible with the top down. Drivers will receive the £50 fine if anyone in the car is smoking while children are present, even if they are not.
Recent studies regarding the concentrated levels of second-hand smoke in a car revealed that levels reached as much as 100 times the amounts considered to be harmless. The tests were the driving force behind the new laws. According to public health officials, the dangers of second-hand smoke and children are too risky to chance.
“Among very small children, it’s linked to sudden infant death syndrome, and as the child gets older it impairs development of the lungs, so asthma is more common.”
In addition to England’s ban on smoking in cars when children are present, some locals in the United States require similar restrictions when children are present. Seven states have bans on the books, although they define children in different manners. In Vermont, you cannot smoke in the car when a child age 8 or under are present. California and Oregon require that no one smokes if anyone is 18 or under in the car. Other states are debating enacting similar laws.
What is your opinion on smoking in cars with children present? Is it just as bad to smoke in the car prior to their presence?
[Photo by Bruno Vincent/Getty Images News]