£50 on-the-spot fine for people caught smoking in cars carrying children proposed in Wales

People in Wales could face a £50 on-the-spot fine if they are caught flouting a ban on smoking in cars carrying children under plans unveiled by the Welsh Government.

A six-week consultation on the plans, which were first announced by the First Minister and Health Minister in July, was launched last week.

The move is aimed to protect the health of children and young people from the harm associated with exposure to second-hand smoke when travelling in private vehicles.

Smoking causes serious harm to the health of smokers and to non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke. It continues to be the largest single preventable cause of ill health and premature death in Wales, causing around 5,450 deaths in Wales in 2010.

Under proposed changes to legislation in Wales, it would be an offence to:

•Smoke in a private vehicle when children under the age of 18 are present;

•As the driver of a vehicle, fail to prevent smoking in a private vehicle when someone under the age of 18 present.

Enforcement of the new law will largely be taken forward by police officers in conjunction with their wider functions on road safety.

It is intended that the change in the law will come into force in 2015.

Welsh Ministers are also consulting about whether the Welsh Government should legislate in the future to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in private vehicles carrying children under 18.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said:

“Children and young people have the right to breathe clean air and enjoy smoke-free environments. Protecting children from exposure to second-hand smoke will help give them the best start in life.

“Exposure to second-hand smoke is a substantial threat to children’s health; it can leave them vulnerable to a variety of health conditions such as lower respiratory tract infections, asthma, middle ear disease and other serious infections.

“Some people light up in their cars without thinking and believe that opening the window will help disperse the smoke; however it simply blows back into the car. Children cannot escape from the toxic chemicals contained in second-hand smoke when travelling in vehicles.”

In his capacity as Health Minister, Mark said:

“We are today setting out our specific plans to ban people from smoking in private vehicles when children under the age of 18 are present. Our aim is to protect the health of children and young people from the harm associated with exposure to second-hand smoke when travelling in private vehicles.

“We believe the most effective way to eliminate this harm is to legislate to prohibit smoking in private vehicles when children under the age of 18 are present.

“Changing the law would protect children from the health harms associated with exposure to second-hand smoke in private vehicles, encourage action by smokers to protect children from second-hand smoke and lead to a reduction in health conditions in children caused by exposure to second-hand smoke.”