Smoking in cars with children becomes an offence in Scotland

Date: 13th December 2016
Category: Disability, Basic Health and Welfare

A new law which makes it illegal to smoke in a vehicle carrying anyone under 18 came into force on 5th December. It was introduced to give extra protection for children and young people from the harm caused by second-hand smoke.

The legislation was passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament last year. Anyone caught breaking the law will be committing an offence carrying a fine of up to £1,000.

Second-hand smoke can cause serious conditions such as bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma, and children are more at risk than adults because they have smaller lungs and breathe more quickly. Latest research highlights that the toxic particles in second hand smoke can reach harmful concentrations within a minute of lighting a cigarette in a car. Studies have also shown the average toxic particle levels breathed in during a smoking car journey are more than 10 times higher than the average levels which can be found in the air.

The measure is part of the Scottish Government's ambition to create a tobacco-free generation by 2034 - defined as a smoking rate of less than 5%. A target to reduce the proportion of children exposed to second-hand smoke in the home from 12% to 6% by 2020 has already been met.

Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of ASH Scotland, said: "We know from speaking to parents that they want to protect their children from tobacco smoke, but often don't know enough about how smoke is harmful and lingers in the air even after you can't see or smell it. This legislation sends a clear message that children should grow up in a smoke-free environment, and who could disagree with that?"