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No smoke without ire - new ban on smoking in cars with children

James Watkins - Law on the Web

  1. 30 September 2015
  2. Cars and Motoring
  3. 0 comments
Smoking in car

Smoking hasn’t been made completely illegal yet, but it has been increasingly stigmatised since the health risks became apparent.

Between the ban on smoking indoors in public places, increasing restrictions on tobacco packaging and even rules against displaying tobacco products in shops, you might be forgiven for that there were no other ways to restrict people’s right to smoke.

Well, you’d still be wrong.

No more smoking in cars

Up until now, the only negative consequence of smoking with your children in the car was the damage you were doing to their fragile, developing lungs (as well as the smell, depending on your perspective).

This is no longer the case. As of October 1st, smoking in an enclosed vehicle in the presence of a child under the age of 18 will be illegal, punishable by a £50 penalty notice, not to mention a fair bit of tutting, probably.

This goes for any individual in the car – neither driver nor passenger may smoke with a youngster present. If a passenger smokes, it is the driver’s responsibility to stop them, and the driver may also be fined separately if they fail to do so.

However, there are some exceptions to the rules.

If an under-18 is alone in the car

These rules only apply only if there are two or more people in the car, so if a 17-year-old happens to be smoking while driving with no-one else in the car, they would not fall afoul of this law.


Debate continues to rage over how safe e-cigarettes actually are, but for now, they are not subject to the same restrictions as other tobacco products. As a result, you can smoke away with children in the car, provided you do it electronically.

Caravans, campervans and convertibles

The ban is specifically on smoking inside vehicles which are, in the words of government guidance, “enclosed wholly or partly by a roof”.

This means that simply opening your sunroof or windows won’t be enough to make your car suitable for the unholy combination of cigarettes and children.

However, if you drive a convertible, you will be able to smoke if the roof is completely down, allowing the noxious fumes to drift into the sky.

Of course, you will be exposing your children to the carbon monoxide and other airbourne nasties that cars themselves spew out, so whether you smoke or not might be moot if you are driving through the middle of London with your roof down.

The restrictions do apply to vehicles such as caravans and campervans when they are being used as vehicles.

However, if you are just living in a caravan and not actually using it as a vehicle, the rules will not affect your right to smoke.

Work vehicles

Work vehicles are not subject to these rules, simply because they have their own regulations – smoking in a vehicle you use for work, including a van, a goods vehicle or a company car, is only allowed if you are the only person that uses the vehicle.

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