The motorist is faced with an almost constant barrage of new legislation these days but the new law on smoking in cars must make sense from a health point of view.
The New Law on Smoking in Cars

There’s been plenty of publicity on the subject but it’s well worth mentioning the change in the law affecting smoking in cars from 1st October 2015. In fact the law can apply to any vehicle in England and Wales.

It’s now against the law to smoke in a vehicle carrying anyone under the age of 18. This is to combat the scourge of passive smoking that has been well documented as a severe hazard.

The law applies to every driver, including those aged 17, and those with a provisional driving licence. And it applies also to the offending smoker if a different person.
The rules are quite precise about the construction or configuration of the vehicle in question:

Therefore the law applies:

  • to any private vehicle that is enclosed wholly or partly by a roof
  • when people have the windows or the sunroof open
  • where the air conditioning is switched on
  • when someone sits smoking in the open doorway of a vehicle

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It will be no defence to wind the windows down or open any sunroof and neither will it do to be parked somewhere to have a smoke with the doors open to let fresh air in. The medical thinking is that the children are sat in an enclosed space and the smoke and the harmful chemicals contained therein will still be breathed in – much as will happen in any non-mobile enclosed space.

The law does not apply to:

  • e-cigarettes (often called “vaping”)
  • a driver who is 17 years old if they are on their own in the car
  • a convertible car with the roof completely down


Interestingly there have been reports that the police will be turning a blind eye to breaches of the law. They probably consider they have more pressing matters to contend with but no driver or smoker should take that as read and the penalty will be a £50 fine.

A spokesman for the new National Police Chiefs’ Council said: “As the existing smoke-free law extends to vehicles, police forces will be following guidance from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health by taking an educational, advisory and non-confrontational approach when enforcing the new legislation.
Of course the health risks speak for themselves. This is the new law on smoking in cars
Click here for more information about the new Legislation

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Michael McGhie
Article by Michael McGhie
Michael began his career at one of the leading criminal litigation practices in Bournemouth. Since then he has worked for a number of high profile law firms across the country.

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