UK Mulls to Ban Smoking in Cars Carrying Children, Leaders Divided

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | January 31, 2014 3:18 PM EST

Lawmakers from U.K. are close to legalizing amendments to the Children and Families Bill which seeks to ban smoking in cars that have children passengers inside. But UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is not pleased with the proposed bill.


A shopkeeper reaches for a packet of cigarettes in a newsagent in London November 28, 2013. Britain announced an independent review of tobacco packaging on Thursday and said it was ready to introduce new laws banning branding on cigarette packets if the report found sufficient evidence to support it. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

"Of course it's a stupid thing to do to smoke with kids in the car," Mr Clegg said during his weekly phone-in show on LBC Radio. "The question is, is it right to have a law every time you see something you don't like. Laws and legislation are not always the solution."

Suffice to say, Mr Clegg said it is just plain common sense that could solve this predicament. Even officials from the country's health department believed enforcing the campaign through legislation may not be the most effective way to achieve the good results that they aim for.

Health campaigners admonished the health of young passengers are very much as risk inside cars with smoking adults because the air and smoke emitted gets more concentrated, thus leaving young kids no choice but to inhale it.

But Lord Hunt, one of three members of the House of the Lords to table the amendment to the Children and Families Bill, said the law very much seeks to give children the voice they don't have.

"Unlike most adults, children lack the freedom to decide when and how to travel, they lack the authority most adults have to ask people not to smoke in their company. And in those circumstances I think it is right for Parliament to step in to protect children," Lord Hunt said.

"I know the temptation is always to say there is a problem, where is the law?" Mr Clegg said. "I am quite an old-fashioned liberal. I don't think you should legislate unless you think it is going to make a difference. I don't see how this is going to be enforced so families speeding along the M4 and mum or dad is smoking, how on earth are you going to properly enforce it?"

He hinted the proposed amendment borders on invasion of privacy.

"Do we let the police into people's homes where children are watching six hours' television? Do we have the state going into kitchens to say that is one Coke can too many? I think sometimes we have to say, hang on a minute, laws and legislation is not always the solution."

Once legislated and signed into law, the bill will fine offenders £60 plus a "smoke awareness" course.

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(Photo: / )
A shopkeeper reaches for a packet of cigarettes in a newsagent in London November 28, 2013. Britain announced an independent review of tobacco packaging on Thursday and said it was ready to introduce new laws banning branding on cigarette packets if the report found sufficient evidence to support it. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett
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