Smoking in cars: will it become a legal issue?

We all know the effects of smoking, but smoking in our cars especially with kids present is something that is not just “frowned upon” but may also become a legal issue in the future.

The House of Lords is currently supporting the idea of banning the practice of smoking in cars in consensus with the Labour Party. However, the government disagrees and feels a better option is educating the public through public campaigns.

Children in a car passive smoking

 

But what to the public think? The general opinion among the public is divided, with pro-smoking supporters up in arms against the motion as they feel it infringes on their right to personal freedom.  Although smoking was banned in public spaces and workplaces in England in 2007, there was no such enforcement in place for private vehicles.

It works in other countries. Laws on smoking in private vehicles carrying kids are already enforced in some European countries, Canada, Australia and certain states of the US. The negative impact of passive smoking however could constitute enough reasons, even for the most liberal of thinkers, to reconsider their stand on the matter.

What’s the risk? Children and young kids are most susceptible to exposure to passive smoking and this could lead to long term medical conditions like asthma, emphysema, respiratory tract infections among a host of other medical issues. As the research carried out by the British Lung Foundation suggests, it has been found that, “a single cigarette’s smoke in a moving car with a semi-open window exposes a child to two-thirds as much smoke in an average smoke filled pub”.  It is further exacerbated to far higher levels (up to 11 times) in a stationary vehicle with closed windows.

What about the smell? Another downside with having smoke in a vehicle is that it can linger within the confines of it for up to two and a half hours, even with the windows open. Then there is the added risk of the 4000 odd chemicals that are present in smoke with some of them possessing carcinogenic properties.  Besides the health risks involved for smokers as well as passive smokers, there is another unpleasant aspect that needs to be taken into consideration.

With smoke tending to remain confined within closed or restricted spaces, any vehicle that has been exposed to cigarette smoke will smell awful. Talk about aging a car, even the best car deodorisers cannot mask the smell that emanates from a smoker’s vehicle and will make you consider either changing the entire interior of the car or scrapping it completely.

The debate continues on this Guardian page.

What do you think? Do you think car smoking should be banned?