Should it be a criminal offence to smoke in a car with a child present?

Oxford Mail: Should you light up in a car with children in it? Should you light up in a car with children in it?

Yes, says Ed Turner, deputy leader of Oxford City Council and the Labour group: THERE is a wealth of medical evidence to tell us that smoking in cars is enormously dangerous, especially to children.

Smoke can linger in cars for hours, even with the window open; it can have particularly damaging effects on children, increasing the risk of asthma, chest infections, and even cot death; and around 300,000 children a year require medical assistance as a result of smoking in cars (by my calculations, that would mean around 600 in Oxford alone).

There are two arguments commonly advanced against a ban.

The first is that it is an incursion upon the private space of individuals.

Such a view is hideously inconsistent: after all, we (quite rightly) ban smoking in places like bars and restaurants, in order to protect fellow customers and staff from the effects of passive smoking.

Children sitting in a car are intrinsically much less likely to be able to move away from the smoke, tell the smokers to stop, or make an informed choice about the dangers they face by being there, and they are at greater health risk than adults from the effects of others’ smoke.

Indeed, it is the opponents of a ban who are denying civil liberties here, namely the freedom of children to breathe clean air.

The second argument is that the law cannot be effectively enforced, and thus it should not happen.

This is hardly persuasive either: there are plenty of laws, including those concerning cars, where offences may not be immediately detected (such as the requirement to wear a seat belt, or the ban on driving under the influence of illegal drugs) but where, quite rightly, a ban is in force in the interests of public safety.

It is also rather strange that the tobacco lobby are the people saying we should look to educate parents on the dangers of smoking around children as an alternative to legislation, whereas most of what these people say seems to be about why smoking is not such a bad thing after all.

Many people still alive began smoking before its dangers were fully understood, and find it hard to stop.

Others will have started while aware of the dangers (with some 100,000 smoking-related deaths per year).

As a society, we should educate people about smoking’s dangers and help people quit, but we should also legislate to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Small children, trapped in a car, come pretty high up on that list in my book.

No, says Zoe Patrick, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Oxfordshire County Council: WHEN the ban on smoking in public places came into force some years ago, this was an excellent law which I am sure has improved the health of the nation.

Everyone knows that smoking is harmful to health and, in particular, to our young children.

I would therefore like to agree that to ban smoking in cars with children sounds like an excellent idea, if only it could be enforceable.

Having been a previous member of Thames Valley Police Authority, I know only too well how police have to prioritise their time in catching criminals and this would only add yet another ‘crime’ for them to deal with.

We know already how difficult it is to enforce people driving cars while on mobile phones or not wearing seat belts, and catching every motorist driving over 30 mph in urban areas. I would expect we would need twice as many police officers as we do now.

Also, if a police officer stops a car and enforces a fine, he cannot follow the motorist back home and stop him smoking in his own house with a child in the same room.

This debate is all about responsible parenting, and I would sincerely hope that any parent who smokes would not do so while in a car with children.

Despite knowing that smoking during pregnancy is harming that baby directly in a mother’s womb, is anyone considering a ban on smoking for pregnant mums?

Would we go so far as to say that no-one can smoke in their own home with children in the same room?

A responsible parent will go outside the house to smoke, in the same way that people now smoke outside a public place, not inside.

If this ban is agreed, then how much longer will it be before there is a ban on buying children beef burgers, sweets and fizzy drinks?

Also, if a parent is caught smoking in a car with their child, does that then make them a criminal who will be referred to social services?

Smoking in a car does not make the driver guilty of dangerous driving, but we can argue it does make the driver guilty of exposing the child to a potential danger.

I am very concerned that we could be getting into territory which has not been fully explored with regards to police enforcement legislation.

Much as I would like to see this ban, I feel that more work needs to be done with the police to see how practical it is and how it can be enforced.

I just hope that raising this issue in Parliament sends out a clear message to all parents who smoke that smoking in a car with their children inside could seriously damage their health.

Comments (15)

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11:39am Wed 12 Feb 14

Dilligaf2010 says...

Both my parents smoked in the car, and I've smoked on and off, since the age of 11. I'm now 50, and as fit as a fiddle.
I wish people would stop going on about smoking being a health risk, concentrate on tackling obesity, that's a health hazard that also has an effect on those that aren't obese, seeing obese people makes me feel sick, even more so if they wear tight clothing.
Both my parents smoked in the car, and I've smoked on and off, since the age of 11. I'm now 50, and as fit as a fiddle. I wish people would stop going on about smoking being a health risk, concentrate on tackling obesity, that's a health hazard that also has an effect on those that aren't obese, seeing obese people makes me feel sick, even more so if they wear tight clothing. Dilligaf2010
  • Score: -18

12:28pm Wed 12 Feb 14

eatmygoal says...

Of course people shouldn't 'stop going on about smoking being a health risk' - because it is a risk. And a big one at that. As is obesity. We should concentrate on both.

Surely the offence in these cases should be around whether harm is caused to children by adults. Whether this is damaging their lungs through smoking, hearts through over feeding junk food, or hitting them or not protecting them from being mauled by the family pet etc.

If anyone causes harm to children they should be punished.

We shouldn't need different laws for different types of harm. That just causes arguments about what is worse to do to a child: fill their lungs with toxins or their arteries with cholesterol etc.
Of course people shouldn't 'stop going on about smoking being a health risk' - because it is a risk. And a big one at that. As is obesity. We should concentrate on both. Surely the offence in these cases should be around whether harm is caused to children by adults. Whether this is damaging their lungs through smoking, hearts through over feeding junk food, or hitting them or not protecting them from being mauled by the family pet etc. If anyone causes harm to children they should be punished. We shouldn't need different laws for different types of harm. That just causes arguments about what is worse to do to a child: fill their lungs with toxins or their arteries with cholesterol etc. eatmygoal
  • Score: 14

12:41pm Wed 12 Feb 14

Geoff Roberts says...

The issue of policing and enforcement isn't entirely about lack of resources. Some police officers are lazy and ignore some crimes because they are too much hassle.
The issue of policing and enforcement isn't entirely about lack of resources. Some police officers are lazy and ignore some crimes because they are too much hassle. Geoff Roberts
  • Score: 4

12:47pm Wed 12 Feb 14

Quentin Walker says...

Dilligaf2010 wrote:
Both my parents smoked in the car, and I've smoked on and off, since the age of 11. I'm now 50, and as fit as a fiddle.
I wish people would stop going on about smoking being a health risk, concentrate on tackling obesity, that's a health hazard that also has an effect on those that aren't obese, seeing obese people makes me feel sick, even more so if they wear tight clothing.
I absolutely agree with you on the obesity issue, however, I think you are kidding yourself on the subject of smoking.
[quote][p][bold]Dilligaf2010[/bold] wrote: Both my parents smoked in the car, and I've smoked on and off, since the age of 11. I'm now 50, and as fit as a fiddle. I wish people would stop going on about smoking being a health risk, concentrate on tackling obesity, that's a health hazard that also has an effect on those that aren't obese, seeing obese people makes me feel sick, even more so if they wear tight clothing.[/p][/quote]I absolutely agree with you on the obesity issue, however, I think you are kidding yourself on the subject of smoking. Quentin Walker
  • Score: 10

1:06pm Wed 12 Feb 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

Geoff Roberts wrote:
The issue of policing and enforcement isn't entirely about lack of resources. Some police officers are lazy and ignore some crimes because they are too much hassle.
Come on Geoff, tell all...

Which crimes have you personally reported, and obtained a crime reference number for, which have not been followed up because they are "too much hassle".
[quote][p][bold]Geoff Roberts[/bold] wrote: The issue of policing and enforcement isn't entirely about lack of resources. Some police officers are lazy and ignore some crimes because they are too much hassle.[/p][/quote]Come on Geoff, tell all... Which crimes have you personally reported, and obtained a crime reference number for, which have not been followed up because they are "too much hassle". Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 2

1:22pm Wed 12 Feb 14

elslrs says...

Dilligaf2010 wrote:
Both my parents smoked in the car, and I've smoked on and off, since the age of 11. I'm now 50, and as fit as a fiddle. I wish people would stop going on about smoking being a health risk, concentrate on tackling obesity, that's a health hazard that also has an effect on those that aren't obese, seeing obese people makes me feel sick, even more so if they wear tight clothing.
A friends father has just died from lung cancer through smoking, so to say you wish people would stop going on about the smoking hazards is the most ridiculous thing ever! Smoking kills, FACT! As an adult you have the choice to poison your body, knowing what can happen, a child does not and should not be subject to second hand smoke, anywhere! I personally think smoking should be illegal when driving full stop. You are not allowed to use a phone, eat or drink when driving but can smoke a cigarette, when this could fall out of your hands into the car or when flicking it out, hit a pedestrian or a cyclist.
[quote][p][bold]Dilligaf2010[/bold] wrote: Both my parents smoked in the car, and I've smoked on and off, since the age of 11. I'm now 50, and as fit as a fiddle. I wish people would stop going on about smoking being a health risk, concentrate on tackling obesity, that's a health hazard that also has an effect on those that aren't obese, seeing obese people makes me feel sick, even more so if they wear tight clothing.[/p][/quote]A friends father has just died from lung cancer through smoking, so to say you wish people would stop going on about the smoking hazards is the most ridiculous thing ever! Smoking kills, FACT! As an adult you have the choice to poison your body, knowing what can happen, a child does not and should not be subject to second hand smoke, anywhere! I personally think smoking should be illegal when driving full stop. You are not allowed to use a phone, eat or drink when driving but can smoke a cigarette, when this could fall out of your hands into the car or when flicking it out, hit a pedestrian or a cyclist. elslrs
  • Score: 12

3:32pm Wed 12 Feb 14

cubist says...

Dilligaf2010 wrote:
Both my parents smoked in the car, and I've smoked on and off, since the age of 11. I'm now 50, and as fit as a fiddle.
I wish people would stop going on about smoking being a health risk, concentrate on tackling obesity, that's a health hazard that also has an effect on those that aren't obese, seeing obese people makes me feel sick, even more so if they wear tight clothing.
another class post
[quote][p][bold]Dilligaf2010[/bold] wrote: Both my parents smoked in the car, and I've smoked on and off, since the age of 11. I'm now 50, and as fit as a fiddle. I wish people would stop going on about smoking being a health risk, concentrate on tackling obesity, that's a health hazard that also has an effect on those that aren't obese, seeing obese people makes me feel sick, even more so if they wear tight clothing.[/p][/quote]another class post cubist
  • Score: 2

4:23pm Wed 12 Feb 14

Rassclart65 says...

My parents don't smoke. I smoke. But i would never smoke in a car with children in my car. I don't smoke if my passengers are non smokers.

Just common sense and courtesy in my opinion.
My parents don't smoke. I smoke. But i would never smoke in a car with children in my car. I don't smoke if my passengers are non smokers. Just common sense and courtesy in my opinion. Rassclart65
  • Score: 10

5:18pm Wed 12 Feb 14

graemeroth says...

What about smoking cigarettes in cars when puppies or other small animals are passengers?
That seems just as cruel.
What about smoking cigarettes in cars when puppies or other small animals are passengers? That seems just as cruel. graemeroth
  • Score: 5

8:01pm Wed 12 Feb 14

Madi50n says...

I think smoking in cars with children is disgusting, but I also wonder how this will be policed.

The slow creep of restrictions on smokers is pretty following a path I predicted a few years back in a post when it was banned in public buildings, bars, and work vehicles.

After smoking in cars with children, next it'll be your house, first the anti-smoking organisations will say it should be bannedin homes with children, the media and public will shout invasion of privacy. Then health professionals will say it should be banned in houses with kids, fewer people will argue, then MPs will debate it, a law will be passed and a hotline for neighbours to grass you up & social services will turn up with police, walk in your house & interrogate you, check through your bins and question your kids.

I'm an ex-smoker by the way, quit when I found out my wife was pregnant, I think it's a terrible habit, but I also know how addictive it is, I still crave them after 5 years. I find it incredibly hypocritical that the govt allows the sale, reaps the tax and then criminalises those people they are happy to rely on to prop up their tax income, who are addicted to this legal product.
I think smoking in cars with children is disgusting, but I also wonder how this will be policed. The slow creep of restrictions on smokers is pretty following a path I predicted a few years back in a post when it was banned in public buildings, bars, and work vehicles. After smoking in cars with children, next it'll be your house, first the anti-smoking organisations will say it should be bannedin homes with children, the media and public will shout invasion of privacy. Then health professionals will say it should be banned in houses with kids, fewer people will argue, then MPs will debate it, a law will be passed and a hotline for neighbours to grass you up & social services will turn up with police, walk in your house & interrogate you, check through your bins and question your kids. I'm an ex-smoker by the way, quit when I found out my wife was pregnant, I think it's a terrible habit, but I also know how addictive it is, I still crave them after 5 years. I find it incredibly hypocritical that the govt allows the sale, reaps the tax and then criminalises those people they are happy to rely on to prop up their tax income, who are addicted to this legal product. Madi50n
  • Score: 5

12:39am Sat 15 Feb 14

poppetbag says...

elslrs wrote:
Dilligaf2010 wrote:
Both my parents smoked in the car, and I've smoked on and off, since the age of 11. I'm now 50, and as fit as a fiddle. I wish people would stop going on about smoking being a health risk, concentrate on tackling obesity, that's a health hazard that also has an effect on those that aren't obese, seeing obese people makes me feel sick, even more so if they wear tight clothing.
A friends father has just died from lung cancer through smoking, so to say you wish people would stop going on about the smoking hazards is the most ridiculous thing ever! Smoking kills, FACT! As an adult you have the choice to poison your body, knowing what can happen, a child does not and should not be subject to second hand smoke, anywhere! I personally think smoking should be illegal when driving full stop. You are not allowed to use a phone, eat or drink when driving but can smoke a cigarette, when this could fall out of your hands into the car or when flicking it out, hit a pedestrian or a cyclist.
I totally agree with you elslrs. Smoking whilst driving should be illegal as it is a distraction and the habit of throwing cigarette butts out the window is both disgusting and illegal.
[quote][p][bold]elslrs[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Dilligaf2010[/bold] wrote: Both my parents smoked in the car, and I've smoked on and off, since the age of 11. I'm now 50, and as fit as a fiddle. I wish people would stop going on about smoking being a health risk, concentrate on tackling obesity, that's a health hazard that also has an effect on those that aren't obese, seeing obese people makes me feel sick, even more so if they wear tight clothing.[/p][/quote]A friends father has just died from lung cancer through smoking, so to say you wish people would stop going on about the smoking hazards is the most ridiculous thing ever! Smoking kills, FACT! As an adult you have the choice to poison your body, knowing what can happen, a child does not and should not be subject to second hand smoke, anywhere! I personally think smoking should be illegal when driving full stop. You are not allowed to use a phone, eat or drink when driving but can smoke a cigarette, when this could fall out of your hands into the car or when flicking it out, hit a pedestrian or a cyclist.[/p][/quote]I totally agree with you elslrs. Smoking whilst driving should be illegal as it is a distraction and the habit of throwing cigarette butts out the window is both disgusting and illegal. poppetbag
  • Score: 4

12:43am Sat 15 Feb 14

poppetbag says...

elslrs wrote:
Dilligaf2010 wrote:
Both my parents smoked in the car, and I've smoked on and off, since the age of 11. I'm now 50, and as fit as a fiddle. I wish people would stop going on about smoking being a health risk, concentrate on tackling obesity, that's a health hazard that also has an effect on those that aren't obese, seeing obese people makes me feel sick, even more so if they wear tight clothing.
A friends father has just died from lung cancer through smoking, so to say you wish people would stop going on about the smoking hazards is the most ridiculous thing ever! Smoking kills, FACT! As an adult you have the choice to poison your body, knowing what can happen, a child does not and should not be subject to second hand smoke, anywhere! I personally think smoking should be illegal when driving full stop. You are not allowed to use a phone, eat or drink when driving but can smoke a cigarette, when this could fall out of your hands into the car or when flicking it out, hit a pedestrian or a cyclist.
I totally agree with you elslrs. Smoking whilst driving should be illegal as it is a distraction and the habit of throwing cigarette butts out the window is both disgusting and illegal.
[quote][p][bold]elslrs[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Dilligaf2010[/bold] wrote: Both my parents smoked in the car, and I've smoked on and off, since the age of 11. I'm now 50, and as fit as a fiddle. I wish people would stop going on about smoking being a health risk, concentrate on tackling obesity, that's a health hazard that also has an effect on those that aren't obese, seeing obese people makes me feel sick, even more so if they wear tight clothing.[/p][/quote]A friends father has just died from lung cancer through smoking, so to say you wish people would stop going on about the smoking hazards is the most ridiculous thing ever! Smoking kills, FACT! As an adult you have the choice to poison your body, knowing what can happen, a child does not and should not be subject to second hand smoke, anywhere! I personally think smoking should be illegal when driving full stop. You are not allowed to use a phone, eat or drink when driving but can smoke a cigarette, when this could fall out of your hands into the car or when flicking it out, hit a pedestrian or a cyclist.[/p][/quote]I totally agree with you elslrs. Smoking whilst driving should be illegal as it is a distraction and the habit of throwing cigarette butts out the window is both disgusting and illegal. poppetbag
  • Score: 2

9:11am Sat 15 Feb 14

The racer says...

It's not so much the smoking at the wheel that's dangerous, it's having to hold the wheel with your knee while you roll one...
It's not so much the smoking at the wheel that's dangerous, it's having to hold the wheel with your knee while you roll one... The racer
  • Score: 11

9:30am Tue 18 Feb 14

yabbadabbadoo256 says...

And here come the do-gooders..
And here come the do-gooders.. yabbadabbadoo256
  • Score: -4

12:27pm Tue 18 Feb 14

Bicester1962 says...

Dilligaf2010 wrote:
Both my parents smoked in the car, and I've smoked on and off, since the age of 11. I'm now 50, and as fit as a fiddle. I wish people would stop going on about smoking being a health risk, concentrate on tackling obesity, that's a health hazard that also has an effect on those that aren't obese, seeing obese people makes me feel sick, even more so if they wear tight clothing.
You are a first class idiot..........
[quote][p][bold]Dilligaf2010[/bold] wrote: Both my parents smoked in the car, and I've smoked on and off, since the age of 11. I'm now 50, and as fit as a fiddle. I wish people would stop going on about smoking being a health risk, concentrate on tackling obesity, that's a health hazard that also has an effect on those that aren't obese, seeing obese people makes me feel sick, even more so if they wear tight clothing.[/p][/quote]You are a first class idiot.......... Bicester1962
  • Score: 4

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