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Cars with children smoking ban laudable but difficult to enforce

27 May 2015 | tagged News release

A ban on adults smoking in cars while children are present is a laudable initiative, however would prove difficult to enforce, the Law Society of Scotland said today, 27 May 2015.

The Law Society has submitted its written evidence on the Smoking Prohibition (Children in Motor Vehicles) (Scotland) Bill which aims to make smoking in cars while children are present a criminal offence. 

Alison Britton, convener of the Law Society’s Health and Medical law committee said: “The harmful effects of tobacco and smoking are well documented, as well as the harmful effects of second hand smoke, particularly on children.  While we of course support the policy intent behind this bill, which is designed to protect children, it is difficult to see how any such legislation could be appropriately enforced.

“Anyone smoking in a car with children present would be committing a criminal offence and enforcement of the ban would be down to local police officers as part of their wider functions on road safety.

“Under existing powers, police officers would be able to request that a vehicle stops if they suspected an offence was being committed. However we can foresee that there would be challenges in enforcing a ban under certain circumstances, for example, when the car is moving, or in very heavy traffic or when more than one person is smoking in the car. In each case the enforcing officers would need to see both the offence taking place and ascertain the age of any child or children present.”

The Law Society believes the proposed legislation should link education around prevention of smoking.

Britton said: “A combined approach is generally viewed as more effective and provides a targeted response in changing patterns of smoking behaviour and promoting tobacco control.    We therefore believe that combining legislative provision and a mechanism for addressing the issue of smoking will have a positive impact of the effects of second hand smoke in locations such as the home or private vehicle.

“The impact of any legislation which aims to reduce the effects of second-hand smoke and child health should also be continuously monitored to assess if it is successful.”


Notes to editors

The Law Society of Scotland’s written evidence can be found on the website. Smoking prohibition (children in vehicles) (Scotland) Bill

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Please contact Val McEwan on 0131 226 888. Email:

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