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Should You Be Allowed to Light Up Behind the Wheel?

September 11, 2015

  • Ban on smoking in cars divides UK opinion
  • Smoking is currently the most preventable cause of death
  • The British Lung Foundation reveal shocking passive smoking stats

Smoking and the effects of tobacco have long been topics of controversy – and with the latest changes to legislation leading to banning smoking in cars to protect passengers under the age of 18, the debate is heating up like never before. These new rules have sparked debate among smokers and nonsmokers alike, as free will is overruled by health benefits – but not everyone is in favour of the new laws.

With in-car smoking being stubbed out and health sector professionals supporting the changes, are figures for drivers lighting up set to fall or is this just another blip on the smoker’s radar?

Up in smoke

smoking

The new law will come into place on October 1st and, as well as facing a penalty if they’re caught smoking in the car, drivers will also be responsible for ensuring their passengers don’t light up – with both parties risking a fine of £50.

In an attempt to protect those under the age of 18 from secondhand fumes, the smoking ban in cars will seek to eliminate the risk of smoking-related illness like asthma and bronchitis in children in particular.

In a 2014 report by the Welsh government, results revealed that 9% of children said their parents smoke in the family car – putting them at risk of passive smoking-related illnesses and health problems later in life.

The stats

Health

While the risk of smoking for adults has been widely publicised, the effects of secondhand smoke on children’s health has been a growing concern. According to the British Lung Foundation, 430,000 children are exposed to secondhand smoke every week in family cars, leading to 300,000 GP visits annually – but these figures can be reduced and eventually eliminated.

With the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealing in 2014 that smoking is the greatest cause of preventable death in the UK, government and health officials are hoping the latest changes will lead to a reduction in people picking up the habit.

Safety

It’s not just health that’s at risk if drivers spark up behind the wheel – the multitasking factor is also raising questions as to whether smoking also distracts drivers. With a recent survey revealing some of the UK’s most dangerous driving habits, 31.6% of people admitted to eating and drinking behind the wheel – and as smoking becomes the latest distraction to be banned, Britain is getting on board.

While Jersey was the first place in Britain to enforce the smoking ban, UK towns and cities are set to follow suit. But as some parts of the country are championing the changes, a report by the BBC uncovered that, while Scotland supports the smoking in cars ban, their attention remains on reducing road deaths.

The beginning of the end?

Cigarette

So, is the smoking ban in cars a sign of things to come? In 2003, shocking warning messages began appearing on cigarette packs and just four years later, smoking was banned in all enclosed public spaces across the UK – including pubs, restaurants and workplaces.

With such advancements taking place over the last decade and the ban on smoking in cars currently rolling out across the country, officials remain hopeful that cigarettes will eventually be filtered out – but only time will tell what’s in store for the UK’s smokers.

About The Author

Jon Le Roux is co-founder and company director of The Car Loan Warehouse. Being a mad engineering and motorsport enthusiast, I spend more hours than is healthy, watching, reading or talking about cars, boats, motorbikes…..basically anything with an engine.