From next Thursday (October 1) it will be illegal to smoke in vehicles with someone under 18 present.
The new law is designed to protect children as they are particularly vulnerable to secondhand smoke, having smaller lungs, faster breathing and less developed immune systems.
Every year around 400 children in Middlesbrough – out of some 13,000 across the North East – need to see a GP due to illnesses caused by breathing secondhand smoke. These can range from respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia to cancers and meningitis.
Middlesbrough Council’s Environmental Health and Trading Standards have been raising awareness amongst the public through events, posters, and social media, prior to the introduction of the new law, which applies to both drivers and their passengers.
They have teamed up with Jennings Motor Group’s Ford dealership on Cargo Fleet Lane in Middlesbrough to launch the awareness campaign.
Delighted to be supporting Middlesbrough Council’s campaign, Nas Khan, managing director of Jennings Motor Group, said: “We are in full support of the new legislation, which will ensure children and young adults nationwide will no longer suffer the negative effects of secondhand smoke.
“Customers will be able to pick-up a leaflet about the new law at our Middlesbrough dealership.”
Councillor Julia Rostron, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Adult Health and Social Care, said: “This new law is about protecting the health of our children from the avoidable dangers of tobacco smoke.
“Every time a child breathes in secondhand smoke they breathe in thousands of chemicals, including about 70 known to cause cancer.
“Just one cigarette smoked in a car can create concentrations of smoke 11 times greater than the average smoky pub.
“Some people wrongly believe that opening a car window is enough to protect their children, however children still inhale high levels of poisons such as carbon monoxide in a confined space, even with a window down.”
The new laws apply to all tobacco products – cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and water/shisha pipes – but they do not apply to electronic cigarettes.
It will be an offence for a person of any age to smoke in a private vehicle carrying someone under 18 and also for the driver of the vehicle not to stop them smoking.
If anyone smokes in the vehicle, both the driver and the smoker can be issued with a £50 fixed penalty notice.
The police will have the main responsibility for enforcing this legislation as they have the powers to stop vehicles and local authority officers are also able to issue the fixed penalty notices. It is an important part of the Council’s public health function to make sure that the public know about the new laws.