Smoking ban in cars carrying children

Smoking in cars with children is to become illegal. Images posed by models
Smoking in cars with children is to become illegal. Images posed by models

Smoking in cars where children are present will now be a criminal offence, after legislation was passed by the Scottish Parliament.

The Smoking Prohibition (Children in Motor Vehicles) (Scotland) Bill was debated last week at stage three by MSPs.

Holyrood politicians voted unanimously for the legislation which will mean fines of up to £100 for anyone who smokes in a car which has a passenger under the age of 18.

It aims to protect children from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.

An amendment to the bill tabled by southside MSP Jackson Carlaw proposed a review of the legislation after 5 years but was voted out.

Alison Britton, convener of the Law Society of Scotland’s health and medical law committee said: “The passing of this bill is great news for the health and wellbeing of children, the harmful effects of tobacco and smoking are undisputed, as well as the effects of second hand smoke.

“We had hoped that the legislation be extended to expressly prohibit the use of e-cigarettes as well as conventional cigarettes.

“We also proposed a review of the legislation within five years to ascertain how well it was working, and we are disappointed that MSPs voted against such a review.

“Taking into account there will undoubtedly be an updating of research, not only into the effects of e-cigarettes, but the harmful effects of tobacco in general in the next few years, this would have potentially given us the opportunity to ensure that the legislation remained fit for purpose.”

Some pro-smoking groups and tobacco companies feel that research shows that relatively few adults smoke in a car with children and that legislation was over-the-top.

In response the pro-smoking group FOREST described the Bill as a “disproportionate response to a relatively rare problem”.

A 2013 UK study found that the average concentration of secondhand smoke in a car was around one-third of that found in Scottish pubs prior to smoke-free legislation and around three times WHO air quality guidelines.