Smoking To Be Banned In Cars With Children Onboard

17 December 2015, 18:12 | Updated: 17 December 2015, 18:24

MSPs have unanimously passed new legislation that will ban smoking in cars when children are present.

The Smoking Prohibition (Children in Motor Vehicles) (Scotland) Bill introduced by Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume was backed in a vote at the Scottish Parliament.

The legislation will bring in fines of £100 for motorists caught smoking in private vehicles while a child aged under 18 is on board.

The Bill won the backing of Holyrood's Health Committee, the Scottish Government, Scottish Labour, charities and academics, although some concerns were raised about its enforcement by Police Scotland.

Mr Hume told MSPs the Bill had been amended so that the responsibility for enforcement would be shared between police and local authority environmental health officers.

He said: "The aim of this piece of legislation is to protect our children and young people from the harmful effects of exposure to second-hand smoke within the very close confines of a motor vehicle, where the concentrations of harmful particles are significant, around 11 times denser than the smoke in bars that we've already legislated for.

"Around 60,000 children are put in this position each week in Scotland.

"This legislation will, of course, address that situation and help to ensure that all our children and young people have the best and healthiest start in life.

"I believe the provisions in this Bill are clearly understood and enforceable. I also believe it will be effective in encouraging a culture shift and challenging social norms, which will have a positive impact on future generations for years to come.''

Public health minister Maureen Watt said the legislation would contribute to the Scottish Government's drive to cut the number of children exposed to second-hand smoke from 12% to 6% by 2020.

She added: "This is about promoting a change in cultures and attitudes.

"We know that there has been a significant change in behaviours and attitudes since the introduction of smoke-free legislation in 2006.

"Enforcement in respect of that legislation was measured and we would anticipate the same approach to the proposals in the Bill.

"Scotland can be proud that it is proven itself to be a world leader on tobacco control. This is an important piece of legislation in ensuring every child in Scotland has the best start in life.''

The minister said a publicity campaign would be carried out to make the pubic aware of the change in the law.

Labour MSP Jenny Marra said she believed the Bill will create a culture change and be complied with.

She said: "People will look back, I think, and think it was crazy that we allowed smoke to permeate such a small enclosed space, exposing other passengers to that danger.

"The millions of pounds that smoking costs our health service is simply not sustainable and that is why we need to legislate to improve environmental factors as well as people's health, and this Bill does exactly that.''

Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw said: "We have to hope this legislation is exemplary and it has the influence on public opinion that we all wish it to have. What we want to happen is for public attitude to be changed.''