Smoking ban ‘difficult to enforce’ says Hampshire Police Federation

The new smoking ban came into force today. PHOTO:  Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
The new smoking ban came into force today. PHOTO: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
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  • Police federation chief says smoking ban would be unenforceable
  • It comes amid sweeping budget cuts to Hampshire Constabulary
  • Officers ‘would not respond’ to calls from the public about people smoking in their cars
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THE ban on adults smoking in cars travelling with children is unenforceable, the man who represents rank-and-file police officers has said.

Hampshire Police Federation chairman John Apter said the law, brought into force today, will be difficult to police under current cuts.

The reality is with budget cuts hitting policing as it is, we’re having to prioritise what we do. There are just not enough officers to go around.

John Apter, Hampshire Police Federation chairman

He said: ‘Anybody using their common sense would know it’s wrong to smoke, especially around vulnerable people like children and especially in confined spaces like cars.

‘The reality is with budget cuts hitting policing as it is, we’re having to prioritise what we do.

‘There are just not enough officers to go around.’

‘Police officers are going to find it very difficult to enforce.’

Drivers or passengers smoking in cars with under 18s can be given £50 fines.

Medics warn second-hand smoke increases the risk of meningitis, cancer and respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia.

Mr Apter added: ‘If we start getting phone calls from members of the public say “we’ve just seen a driver having a cigarette and there’s kids in the car” we’re not going to deploy a team of officers.’

It comes as Hampshire police is facing £40m to £65m cuts next year on top of £80m.

Here’s everything you need to know about the smoking ban:

Can I smoke in my car if there are under 18s in the vehicle?

No. It will be an offence for a person of any age to smoke in a private vehicle that is carrying someone who is under 18 for a driver (including a provisional driver) not to stop someone smoking in these circumstances

The rules don’t apply to e-cigarettes.

What are the penalties for breaking the law?

The fixed penalty notice fine for both offences is £50. Somebody who commits both offences could get 2 fines. Private vehicles must be carrying more than one person to be smokefree so somebody who is 17 and smoking alone in a private vehicle won’t be committing an offence.

Enforcement officers (usually the police) will use their discretion to decide whether to issue a warning or a fixed penalty notice, or whether to refer an offence to court.

Why is the law changing?

Every time a child breathes in secondhand smoke, they breathe in thousands of chemicals. This puts them at risk of serious conditions, such as meningitis, cancer and respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. It can also make asthma worse.

Secondhand smoke is dangerous for anyone, but children are especially vulnerable, because they breathe more rapidly and have less developed airways, lungs and immune systems. Over 80% of cigarette smoke is invisible and opening windows does not remove its harmful effect.

The law is changing to protect children and young people from such harm.

What counts as a vehicle?

The legislation covers any private vehicle that is enclosed wholly or partly by a roof. A convertible car, or coupe, with the roof completely down and stowed is not enclosed and so isn’t covered by the legislation. But a vehicle with a sunroof open is still enclosed and so is covered by the legislation.

Sitting in the open doorway of an enclosed vehicle is covered by the legislation.

The rules apply to motorhomes, campervans and caravans when they are being used as a vehicle but don’t apply when they are being used as living accommodation.

Are there any other changes?

Yes. It will be illegal for retailers to sell electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) or e-liquids to someone under 18 for adults to buy (or try to buy) tobacco products or e-cigarettes for someone under 18 to smoke in private vehicles that are carrying someone under 18.