Intended for healthcare professionals


Smoking in cars carrying children will be illegal in England from October

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 20 February 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h836
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. 1London

The UK parliament has approved regulations that will make it illegal in England to smoke in cars that are carrying children.

The regulations, which come into force on 1 October 2015, will make it an offence to smoke, or to fail to prevent smoking, in a private vehicle when someone under 18 is present. People who do not comply could face a £50 fixed penalty notice. The regulations will not apply to drivers on their own in a car.

The British Lung Foundation has calculated that around 430 000 children are exposed to secondhand smoke in their family car every week.

Jane Ellison, public health minister, said, “Three million children are exposed to secondhand smoke in cars, putting their health at risk. We know that many of them feel embarrassed or frightened to ask adults to stop smoking, which is why the regulations are an important step in protecting children from the harms of secondhand smoke.”

The Royal College of Physicians called for such a ban in 2010 when it released its Passive Smoking and Children report.1 The report estimated that passive smoking caused more than 20 000 cases of lower respiratory tract infection, 120 000 cases of middle ear disease, and 22 000 new cases of wheezing and asthma every year in the United Kingdom. Jane Dacre, the college president, welcomed the move, saying, “I am delighted that this will help protect future generations of children from secondhand smoke.’


Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h836


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