Smoking in cars with children

If you were to ask me whether I thought it was a good idea to smoke in a confined space in front of children I would reply ‘no’. I think you should not smoke in front of anyone who is either unable to ask you to stop, or who cannot walk away.

I am an ex-smoker; I smoked my last cigarette on 19th February 1982. I had cut down to ten a day, wanting to give up, when I started dating the non-smoking Petrina. I really enjoyed smoking, but I wanted a long, healthy life more.

MPs have voted in favour of banning smoking in cars with children present. I have my doubts, and it is not because I want to condemn youngsters to suffer the effects of passive smoking. There are many things we do in front of the kids that have the potential to adversely affect their future.

What about eating fatty foods in front of the children, swearing, not flossing regularly, or exceeding the recommended limit of three or four units of alcohol (dependent on gender) when the sprogs are about? The list is almost endless, and yes, it could easily get very silly.

I try to be a libertarian and (perhaps naively) think that much can be solved by education. I take the point that this ban is not about individual responsibility and is about not inflicting a harmful habit and those who cannot do anything about it themselves. However, we are seeing smoking declining to a fraction of what it was when I was born. Since smokers are a shrinking band, is legislation necessary?

My parents gave up smoking when I was on the way – and such was the climate then that this was a decision driven by economics rather than health considerations. The 1950s saw smoking promoted as being good for you. Only a fifth of the population now smoke; when I smoked you could get ashtrays from the office stationary cupboard. I so rarely find myself in the presence of smokers that I now actually notice them, when in my youth it was entirely unmemorable because it was so common.

Whilst I wonder whether we need to legislate for an increasingly rare event, I appreciate that there is an opposing argument that this is the best time to legislate. However, do we want to regulate every aspect of our lives?

Is a ban is enforceable even? I still see texting drivers in the overtaking lane of the A127 – quite a few years after any use of a mobile (other than hands free) whilst driving was banned.


4 Responses to Smoking in cars with children

  1. What about eating fatty foods in front of the children, swearing, not flossing regularly, or exceeding the recommended limit of three or four units of alcohol (dependent on gender) when the sprogs are about?

    The smoking issue is more about passive smoking than setting a bad example surely?

    (When my boss smoked, one of my colleagues put up a notice in the office which said:
    Your pleasure is smoking and you oblige me to consume the residue of your habit.
    I give notice that my pleasure is eating chocolate, can I similarly oblige you?

    There is an issue with all laws about enforceability and police priorities. Presumably our new “responsive” and “accountable” PCCs can direct police in respect of priorities. So in Essex you might get done for texting at the wheel, but not in Suffolk, whilst in Suffolk you may get done for forcing children to passively smoke in a car, but not in Essex – a ludicrous situation but I don’t think either of us were enthusiasts for PCCs. As another road user my priority would be to ensure that the driver drifting into my path is not texting; if I had children, my priority might be that they should not be poisoned as passengers in the car-sharing scheme to/from school.

    Unenforceability should not be a “knock out blow” for an initiative – nor should the argument “well if I cannot poison my kids in the car, are you going to stop me doing so in my home?”

  2. David Glover. Secretary. RAW 2012. says:

    Smoking in cars is a health and safety issue for several reasons.

    1. Others drivers and pedestrians are put at risk by smokers driving without due care and
    2, Children can not avoid being passive smokers.

    The disgusting habit need to be banned without hesitation.

    As for the law; that is a lottery at best. If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time then you risk being caught. Avoidance of being caught does not invalidate the law.

  3. David, I understand and accept that children can not avoid being passive smokers. I agree with Julian, in that whilst I also class myself as a libertarian, I am just about fed up with successive Governments wanting to meddle into aspect of people’s lives. Also, if you ban smoking whilst children are in a car, what about people who smoke with children present at home? Or pregnant women? Should both of these be banned by parliament too?

  4. David Glover. Secretary. RAW 2012. says:

    Hello Tony.

    A house is not so confined as a car and has a greater volume.
    Children are not usually strapped in whilst in a house therefore can avoid the worst concentration of smoke.
    A total ban on smoking would prove impractical.

    At some future point it would It would be interesting to see an offspring sue a parent for harm caused by passive smoking.
    Much in the same way as emancipated minors can sue their parent/s for divorce in some jurisdictions.

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