CIEH welcomes the news that smoking in cars carrying children is to be prohibited

Publication Date: 13th February 2015

Subject: Public health

The CIEH welcomes the news that MPs have passed legislation making it an offence from 1 October to smoke in a private vehicle carrying anyone under the age of 18 in England.

Ian Gray, CIEH Principal Policy Officer, said: ‘Existing smokefree legislation already successfully protects children from the harms of second-hand smoke when they are travelling in all forms of public transport. The requirements of the Smoke-free (Private Vehicles) Regulations 2015 will soon protect them when they are travelling in private vehicles.’

The Health Act 2006, which established the smokefree legislation for England, was amended by the Children and Families Act 2014 to give the Secretary of State regulation-making powers to make private vehicles smoke-free places when carrying children under the age of 18.

It will be an offence for any person to smoke in a private vehicle with someone under the age of 18 present, and for a driver, including holders of provisional licences, to fail to prevent smoking in a private vehicle with someone under the age of 18 present. A fixed penalty notice of £50 can be issued for both offences.

There is a defence of the driver having taken reasonable steps to cause the person to stop smoking and the regulations do not apply to motor homes, camper vans and caravans when they are being used as a home. The policy aim is for the regulations to apply to vehicles, not homes.

Mr Gray said: ‘The regulations add police forces as enforcement authorities for smoke-free private vehicles because, unlike local authorities, they are able to request that a vehicle stops if they suspect that an offence is being committed.

‘Local authorities will also be able to enforce the proposed regulations, and there will be an important role for local authority regulatory officers in working jointly with the police on local enforcement activities, as well as continuing their efforts to build compliance for smoke-free legislation generally.’

The regulations will come into force on 1 October 2015 to allow for sufficient training of enforcement officers and to raise public awareness of the regulations. During this period, Public Health England will deliver a campaign to raise awareness of the new regulations.

Mr Gray concluded: ‘As with the existing smoke-free regulations, success will be measured not by the number of enforcement actions that are taken but, rather, by how behaviour, attitudes and health outcomes change in time and there is a statutory requirements for the government to review the regulations within five years of their coming into force.’

Notes to editors: 

  • For media enquiries please contact Brian Cowan on 020 7827 5922 or 07721 456727 or email 
  • The new regulation will not apply to anyone driving alone or driving in a convertible car with the top down.
  • The regulations were passed in the Commons after 342 MPs voted in favour of legislation while just 74 voted against.
  • Prohibition on smoking in cars when children are present already exist in some US states, as well as parts of Canada and Australia.
  • Scotland is also considering introducing similar regulations.

About the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH): 

  • The CIEH is the professional voice for environmental health representing over 10,000 members working in the public, private and non-profit sectors. It ensures the highest standards of professional competence in its members, in the belief that through environmental health action people's health can be improved
  • Environmental health has an important and unique contribution to make to improving public health and reducing health inequalities. The CIEH is working to ensure that both in support of government policy and in campaigning for necessary additional measures
  • The CIEH is a leading provider of regulated qualifications and operates in over 50 countries
  • 15Hatfields is the organisation’s sustainable events venue - 
  • For more information visit 
  • Follow the CIEH on Twitter @The_CIEH 


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