All you need to know about the changes to the smoking laws

Smoker law changes. Photo:Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
Smoker law changes. Photo:Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

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From October 1, several changes to the law around smoking come into force. Here’s everything you need to know.

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.

The rules don’t apply to boats, ships and aircraft, as they have their own rules

work vehicles and public transport, as they are already covered by smoke-free legislation

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.