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New regulations presented to Parliament propose that smoking will be banned in cars containing children up the age of 18.
Anyone caught smoking in a car or failing to prevent a passenger from smoking will automatically be issued with a fine of £50.
MPs are due to vote on the plans prior to the election in May, and if the motion is passed, the law will come into force from 1st October 2015.
The move follows on from a free vote in February which gave ministers the power to introduce the law, although they are not obliged to do so.
Public health minister Jane Ellison said: “Second-hand smoke is a real threat to children’s health and we want them to grow up free from the risks of smoking.
“The only effective way to protect children is to prevent them breathing second-hand smoke and our plans to stop smoking in cars carrying children will help us to do this.”
Smoking in cars: five facts from the BBC website:
Simon Clark, director of smokers’ lobby group Forest, said: “The government is taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. The overwhelming majority of smokers know smoking in a car with children is inconsiderate and they don’t do it.
“The regulations are unnecessary and excessive. Do we really want to criminalise people for lighting a cigarette in a private vehicle?”
Neil Addley, managing director at TrustedDealers.co.uk said: “As an ex-smoker, I always smoked outside at home and never in the car with the kids. I really don’t get why anyone would object to a law preventing the harm that can come to children at the hand of their own parents. So whilst I am generally anti-government interference, I think this just makes sense.”
A ban on smoking in cars has also been put forward in Scotland and Wales.