Is the Recent No Smoking Car Ban a Farce? #nosmokingday

posted on Mar 09 2016 by Karen Liggett

Is the Recent No Smoking Car Ban a Farce? #nosmokingday

Did you know its No Smoking Day today? Or for those of you on social media, lets use the trending hashtag #nosmokingday!

On this day, we felt it important to highlight the recent criticism of the car smoking ban. The ban is aimed at protecting children from health risks of adults smoking in cars.

Many feel that this law has turned into a farce after it emerged Britain’s largest police force has not prosecuted a single driver since it was implemented in October 2015.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that the Metropolitan Police Force has not issued a single fine since the law came into force five months ago.

Police failure to take action is a blow to ministers who brought in the law under strict guidance from health experts who said it was necessary to protect children from the harm caused by adults smoking in cars.

Before the offence came into force Professor Sally Davies, the Government’s chief medical officer, said: ‘We want children to grow up free from harm and we need parents to understand why smoking in vehicles is so dangerous. Eighty per cent of smoke is invisible so even if you think you are being careful you cannot see where the smoke is going.’

Last night Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) reported a similar pattern of non-prosecutions of offenders across the whole country.

Amanda Sandford, Information Manager at ASH, said a number of other counties are also reported no action being taken. She told the Sunday Telegraph: "It is an offence (to smoke in a car in the presence of a child) and it is quite proper that people should be prosecuted. And it doesn't stop (the harm) if the smoker has the window open. But these kind of laws take time to bed down and it maybe there is already a high level of compliance across the country by largely law abiding population."

A Met spokesman said: "The Department of Health and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children have advocated a period of education before the issuing of a fixed penalty notice takes place."

Under the Smoke-Free (Private Vehicles) Regulations 2015, it is an offence to light up in any enclosed vehicle that is carrying anyone aged under 18.

The law can be enforced by police, who have the power to stop a vehicle, or some council staff, who do not have this power.

Those caught face a warning, a £50 fixed penalty, reduced to £30 if paid within two weeks, or a fine of up to £200 if convicted in a magistrates court.

Last year Jayne Willetts, of the Police Federation, which represents front line staff, said officers should not be expected to act as health workers.

Ms Willetts said: ‘Making this an offence that officers are expected to enforce just creates an unnecessary extra layer of bureaucracy. With resources being cut, no force can prioritise their hard-pressed police officers’ time for this. It brings us back to the whole problem of police being “everything for everyone” and, now, health workers.

Meanwhile, we are struggling to find resources to stop crimes that have a much more dramatic impact on victims.'