THE Department of Health is warning drivers that from today (October 1) they could face a £50 fine if they smoke in a car with a person under the age of 18 present.
The new law aims to protect children from the health risks of second hand smoke, which can include asthma, cancer and reduced lung function.
Manchester based charity Tobacco Free Futures has campaigned for the new law for half a decade.
Amy Rowe from the charity says it was due to a strong media campaign two years ago that the law was passed through Parliament in February this year.
“We have campaigned for smokefree cars for five years and we are delighted that smokefree vehicles for under 18s will now be a reality,” Amy told Quays News. “As support for the measure gathered pace, Tobacco Free Futures and the British Lung Foundation delivered a media campaign in winter 2013 which involved Peep Show actor Neil Fitzmaurice and Hollyoaks actress Jazmine Franks taking part in a viral video to help raise awareness of the issue and encouraged people to contact their MP.
“This new law is not designed to turn smokers into criminals, but it is about protecting children from the avoidable dangers that tobacco smoke presents to their health and well-being”.
WATCH: THE CAMPAIGN VIDEO THAT WAS MADE BEFORE THE LAW CHANGE (credit to Tobacco Free Futures and British lung Foundation)
It is estimated that each year smoking near children results in 40 sudden infant deaths and 9,500 hospital admissions.
Earlier this year a survey of 500 people in Manchester by the charity found that most people under estimated the effects of second hand smoke on children. A staggering 98 per cent of people thought there to be fewer chemicals in smoke than the 4,500 there are. Despite this, 97 per cent of the people surveyed in the city earlier this year agreed that smoking in cars with children present should be banned.
INFOGRAPH: A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS INVOLVED WITH CAR SMOKING
Controversially, it is not just the person smoking who could be fined, but also the driver of the vehicle. The law does not apply to 17 year old drivers, driving their own vehicle with no one else under the age of 18 in the car.
Similar bans from smoking in cars where children are passengers are already in force across parts of Australia, America and Canada.
By: Vicky Barker