From 1 October 2015 it’s going to be illegal to smoke in a private vehicle if someone under 18 is with you. It will also be an offence if you’re the driver and you don’t stop someone else lighting up.
Why the change?
It’s not the first time the government has taken steps to manage smoking in vehicles. They have already passed a law banning smoking in any work vehicle that more than one person uses, eg:
- goods vehicles used by more than one driver
- company cars used by more than one employee (a worker can smoke in a company car that only they use if their employer agrees).
The government is introducing the new law as it says that children are especially vulnerable to secondhand smoke. This is because they breathe more rapidly and have less developed airways, lungs and immune systems.
What’s the penalty?
It will be an offence to smoke in a private vehicle carrying someone under the age of 18. It will also be an offence for the driver to allow anyone to smoke in that situation. So, if you’re the driver and you and a passenger are smoking you are committing two offences at the same time. And that potentially means two fines.
There’s a fixed penalty fine of £50 for each offence. It’s up to the police whether they give a warning, the £50 fine or refer the offence to court.
What if I have the window open?
The government says that over 80% of cigarette smoke is invisible, and that opening windows does not remove its harmful effect.
So, the rules will still apply if you are in a vehicle with someone under 18 and have the windows down, the sunroof open, the air con on, or are even sitting in a stationary car with the doors open.
Are there any exceptions?
The law doesn’t apply to:
- a convertible or coupe with the roof completely down and stowed away (there aren’t many sunny days we can enjoy that in Stockport!)
- smoking e-cigarettes
- motorhomes, campervans and caravans where you are using them as living accommodation rather than as a vehicle
- boats and ships as they have their own rules
- work vehicles as mentioned above.
What if I’m on my own in the car?
If you’re on your own, or with adults of 18+ in a private vehicle, you can smoke as many cigarettes as you want. Just keep safe and make sure you can see through the windscreen!
There’s bound to be more about the introduction of this law on the TV and in the papers to remind you. Remember, if you don’t want to be fuming at a £50 fine from October, make sure no-one smokes in the car when under 18s are around.
Whether you’re a smoker or a non-smoker you can be sure of get expert advice on any problem with your vehicle at Sandy Lane Service Station. Just give us a call on 0161 480 4117.