Smoking in Cars

Adults should be free to smoke in private vehicles, provided they do not light up or smoke in a way that would impair their driving.  They should also show due consideration for other occupants and dispose of cigarette ends responsibly in ashtrays.  The proposal to ban smoking in what is a private space is a step too far and an unwarranted intrusion on individual freedom.


A ban on smoking in the workplace, in enclosed and “substantially” enclosed public places (with certain limited exceptions) and in certain vehicles was implemented in England on 1 July 2007.  The regulations covering smoking in vehicles were introduced in the Health Bill: ‘The Smoke-free (Exemptions and Vehicles) Regulations’.


A vehicle does not have to be smokefree if:


  • It is used primarily for private purposes by a person who owns it or has a right to use it, which is not restricted to a particular journey.
  • It is used at work by one person only.
  • It has an open cab.


In 2015, the Government made it an offence to smoke in any private vehicle containing any individual under the age of 18.  This policy has been widely criticised by law enforcement.  For example, Nick Smart, the Chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Federation, said that:


“Cuts have had a huge impact on our roads policing capability, and we have lost a number of officers in that area.  We now have to enforce this new law with dwindling numbers and capacity.  There are already other road traffic priorities such as dangerous driving, driving without insurance, and the use of mobile phones.  This is yet another ask of us when we are struggling for staff, and another burden placed on us when resources are diminishing.  We don’t have the resources to police this new law how we would want.”


Moreover, a survey of motorists conducted by the RAC in late 2015 found that “Nine in 10 motorists (92%) do not have confidence that the new smoking ban in cars, coming into effect this Thursday (1 October 2015) in England and Wales, will be effectively enforced”.