Tobacco control and smoking

Passive Smoking

Passive smoking significantly harms children’s health and life chances.  Growing up in a smoky environment puts children at a major disadvantage and those exposed to tobacco smoke are at much greater risk of cot death, meningitis, lung infections and ear disease.  In Central Bedfordshire over 20% of new born babies are living with a smoker.  

Infants and children are particularly vulnerable to the health effects of second-hand smoke with most of their exposure coming from parents within the home.  As well as impacting on children’s health, parental smoking can cause damage to family finances and wellbeing; it also has a strong influence on the likelihood of their children becoming smokers.  

New legislation on smokefree cars came into effect on the 1 October 2015, making it an offence to smoke in a private vehicle with someone under 18 years old present.  The legislation covers any private vehicle that is enclosed wholly or partly by a roof.  From this date it will be an offence:

  • For a person of any age to smoke in a private vehicle that is carrying someone who is under the age of 18
  • For a driver (including a provisional driver) not to stop someone smoking in these circumstances

The fixed penalty notice fine for both offences is £50 and both the driver and the smoker could be fined.  The law applies to every driver in England and Wales, including those aged 17 and those with a provisional driving licence.  Enforcement officers (usually the police) will use their discretion to decide whether to issue a warning or a fixed penalty notice, or whether to refer an offence to court.

The Smokefree Cars and Homes programme encourages parents, and other adults living with children to also keep their homes smokefree.  Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Chief Executive, Deborah Arnott, said: 

“The evidence is clear: exposure to secondhand smoke causes serious illnesses and sometimes even death in both adults and children.  To further minimise these health risks smokers should be encouraged to quit and everyone should make their homes and cars smokefree.”


Last updated Friday, 22nd April 2016