Smoking in cars with children banned from today

Smokers are being given one more reason to quit as new laws come into force which make it illegal for anyone to smoke in vehicles with children present. The new law is designed to help protect children from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Under the ban both the driver and the smoker can be fined £50 if anyone smokes in a vehicle with a person who is under 18.

Newcastle University, Public Health England and Fresh Smoke Free North East conducted an experiment to highlight the dangers of exposure to secondhand smoke in vehicles. This tested the levels of dangerous chemicals (fine particles known as PM2.5) to which children can be exposed in the back seat of a car when a driver is smoking.

Despite what people might think, opening the car windows does not remove the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. The experiment showed that even with the window open, levels of dangerous chemicals were more than 100 times higher than recommended safety guidelines.

Over 80% of cigarette smoke is invisible, and parents can be unaware of the exposure to which children are often subjected, particularly in enclosed spaces such as vehicles. Children are particularly vulnerable as they breathe more rapidly and have less developed airways and immune systems.

Health risks

Secondhand smoke is made up of over 4,000 chemicals, more than 50 of which cause cancer. Approximately three million children in England are currently exposed to secondhand smoke in a vehicle,  which puts them at risk of serious conditions including meningitis and respiratory infections such as bronchitis. Exposure to secondhand smoke results in over 300,000 general practice consultations and an estimated 9,500 hospital admissions in the UK each year.



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