From today, 1 October 2015 it will be illegal to smoke in a vehicle with anyone under the age of 18 present. The regulations were passed in the Commons after 342 MPs voted in favour of legislation while just 74 voted against.

More than 430,000 children are exposed to second-hand smoke in cars each week, according to the British Lung Foundation. Passive smoke in children can increase the risk of asthma, meningitis and cot death, say public health experts.

The law applies to every driver in England and Wales, including those aged 17 and those driving with a provisional driving license.

If caught, both the smoker and the driver could be fined £50

But, according to government guidance on the new legislation, officers “will use their discretion to decide whether to issue a warning or a fixed penalty notice, or whether to refer an offence to court.”

The law includes any private vehicle that is enclosed even partially by a roof, even if the windows or sunroof are open, the air conditioning on, or if the smoker sits in the open doorway of the vehicle. The law does not apply to a convertible car with the roof completely down.

There are exceptions:

  • Should you smoke in a convertible – providing the roof is down – you will not be breaching the law
  • E-cigarettes are unaffected by the new law. 17-year-olds found smoking will not be fined as long as they are alone in the car, with no children present
  • Motorhomes and caravans are also covered by the new law: although it will be illegal to smoke inside when used as a vehicle, the law allows smoking inside when used as living quarters

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