Smoking in cars: New law from October 1

By on 01/09/2015 in News

Birmingham motorists are reminded that from next month it will be illegal to smoke in a vehicle carrying anyone under 18.

Earlier this year MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of the move, which aims to protect young people under-18 from second-hand smoke.

So from 1 October 2015, private vehicles must be smokefree if they are enclosed, there is more than one person present and one of them is under 18.

So it will be an offence:

  • for a person of any age to smoke in a private vehicle that is carrying someone who is under 18
  • for a driver (including a provisional driver) not to stop someone smoking in these circumstances

The rules don’t apply to e-cigarettes.

The legislation covers any private vehicle that is enclosed wholly or partly by a roof. A convertible car, or coupe, with the roof completely down and stowed is not enclosed and so isn’t covered by the legislation.

But a vehicle with a sunroof open is still enclosed and so is covered by the legislation.

Sitting in the open doorway of an enclosed vehicle is covered by the legislation.

The rules apply to motorhomes, campervans and caravans when they are being used as a vehicle but don’t apply when they are being used as living accommodation.

The rules don’t apply to:

  • boats, ships and aircraft, as they have their own rules
  • work vehicles and public transport, as they are already covered by smokefree legislation

Background to the new legislation

  • Second-hand smoke can be very harmful to a child’s lungs. Every year, it results in more than 165,000 new episodes of disease among children; 300,000 primary care consultations; 9,500 hospital admissions and around 40 sudden infant deaths.
  • Children travelling in a car in which an adult is smoking are particularly at risk.
  • Research has shown that, because cars are such small, enclosed spaces, a single cigarette smoked in a moving car with the window half open exposes a child in the centre of the back seat to around two thirds as much second-hand smoke as in an average smoke-filled pub.
  • Levels increase to more than 11 times greater than a smoke-filled pub when the cigarette is smoked in a stationary car with the windows closed.
  • Children are particularly vulnerable to passive smoke, as they have smaller lungs and their immune systems are less developed, which makes them more susceptible to respiratory and ear infections triggered by passive smoking.
  • British Lung Foundation figures show that around 185,000 children between the ages of 11-15 in England are exposed to potentially toxic concentrations of second-hand smoke in their family car every day or most days.
  • That’s the equivalent of more than 6,100 classrooms full of children.
  • The data analysis also showed that over 430,000 children aged 11-15 in England are exposed to second-hand smoke in their family cars at least once a week.
  • Although members of the public are protected by smoke-free legislation in public transport and in work vehicles, large numbers of children remain exposed to high concentrations of second-hand smoke when confined in family cars.

Smoking in Birmingham

Smoking causes significant economic burden both in terms of increased health expenditure and cost to the Birmingham economy in the form of absenteeism, working days lost and premature retirement.

Premature deaths from smoking are estimated to cost the Birmingham economy £24m each year.

In the UK the majority of smokers start before the age of 18 and in Birmingham, around a third of 16-24 year olds are actively smoking.

In Birmingham around 1 in 5 adults smoke, equating to around 185,000 smokers.

Every year over 4,500 people die in Birmingham from a smoking related disease.

Smoking is directly linked with Birmingham’s three biggest killers, and is directly attributable to:

  • 1 in 4 of all cancers,
  • 1 in 5 deaths from cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke),
  • 1 in 3 of all deaths from respiratory disease

About half of all smokers die from smoking-related diseases. If you are a long-term smoker, on average, your life expectancy is about 10 years less than a non-smoker.

Put another way, in the UK about 8 in 10 non-smokers live past the age of 70, but only about half of long-term smokers live past 70. The younger you are when you start smoking, the more likely you are to smoke for longer and to die early from smoking.

Stop smoking in Birmingham

Giving up smoking is not easy but with help and support from our stop smoking service, you are up to four times more likely to stop than with will power alone.

For friendly, expert advice and support on how to quit smoking, call the Birmingham stop smoking service on 0800 052 5855 free or text ‘QUIT’ to 80800.

For more information about Stop Smoking services in Birmingham, go to:

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