Drivers face smoking ban if kids are in car

Opponents of the bill say it is a disproportionate response and won't work. Picture: PA
Opponents of the bill say it is a disproportionate response and won't work. Picture: PA
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MOTORISTS in Scotland could be banned from smoking in cars carrying children.

Legislation being drawn up following extensive consultation has already gathered cross party support.

Adults who smoke while children are present could be fined £60.

Lib Dem MSP Jim Hume, who is behind the proposed bill said the majority of the 161 responses to his consultation showed an appetite for the crackdown and said he now had cross-party support from 25 MSPs for new legislation.

The move follows overwhelming support from public and health charities as well as widespread backing at Holyrood.

The new Holyrood law will bring Scotland into line with the rest of the UK where MPs are expected to back similar legislation in a few weeks, having been given a free vote at Westminster.

But this is slightly at odds with the position held by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who said enforcing a ban would not work.

The free vote has been forced by backing from the House of Lords earlier this week for a Labour bill making it a road traffic offence, with fines or points on the licence of the driver for allowing smoking with children present.

The MSP lodged draft proposals for his bill in May last year calling for a ban in Scotland on smoking in private vehicles while a child under 16 is present.

Legislation currently exists to prevent drivers smoking in work-related vehicles.

Mr Hume said the matter should be treated as a purely health issue, which is why his bill has received clearance from the Holyrood authorities.

He added: “Many of the charities, individuals and health professionals who have backed my proposals recognise that this is about giving children the best start if life. These are fair and specific proposals whose time has come.”

The responses showed backing from every charity or body in the health sector and the only opponents were the tobacco industry.

Consultation responses were split among 88 sent to Mr Hume and 73 completed through an online survey by the British Heart Foundation.

It showed 75 per cent supported the plan, rising to 84 per cent when the survey was included.

Some concern was raised about how police will be able to identify the age of passengers and offenders. The Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association and smokers’ lobby group Forest said the plan is a disproportionate response to a relatively rare problem.

But a UK Department of Health of health survey shows that around 300,000 children a year are treated for the effects of second hand smoke.

Campaigners say toxins inhaled in closed spaces such as vehicles are over ten times more concentrated than in open spaces.