Smoking ban in cars: what you need to know

As of October 1 2015, a smoking ban in cars makes it illegal to smoke in your vehicle in England and Wales if there’s a child on board.
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Scotland is expected to implement a ban in 2016, and there is sustained pressure for similar legislation in Northern Ireland. Here’s a run-down of what’s happening:

Q. What changed on 1 October?

From 1 October 2015, smoking is banned in private vehicles if there is more than one person present and one of them is under 18. So, a driver aged 18 or over cannot smoke if he or she has a passenger under 18. And if the driver is 17, no-one in the car can smoke. Somebody who is 17 and smoking alone in a private vehicle won’t be committing an offence. It will be an offence for a driver (including a driver on a provisional licence) not to stop someone smoking in the car.

Q. What is the penalty for breaching the rules?

The penalty for any offence linked to the ban is £50.

Q. Does ‘vaping’ an e-cigarette breach the ban?

The rules DO NOT apply to e-cigarettes.

Q. Are there any exceptions?

The legislation covers any private vehicle that is enclosed wholly or partly by a roof. You can smoke in a convertible car that is carrying someone under 18, but only if the roof is completely down and stowed.

Q. What if my sunroof is open? Does that count?

A vehicle with a sunroof open is still enclosed and so is covered by the legislation (so you would get fined). And sitting in the open doorway of an enclosed vehicle is covered by the legislation, so again, you would be causing an offence.

Q. What about caravans and motorhomes?

The rules apply to motorhomes, campervans and caravans when they are being used as a vehicle. But they don’t apply when they are being used as living accommodation. So if it’s moving, you can’t smoke. If it’s stationary, the keys are out of the engine and you’re parked legally for an extended stay, you can.

Q. What else has changed?

Also from 1 October, it is illegal:
  • for adults to buy (or try to buy) tobacco products or e-cigarettes for someone under 18
  • for retailers to sell electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) or e-liquids to someone under 18.

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