Smoking in private vehicles

  • In private vehicles adults should be free to smoke, provided they do not light up or smoke in a way that would distract from safe driving.
  • They should also show due consideration for other occupants and dispose of cigarette ends responsibly in ashtrays.
  • The proposal to ban smoking in what is a private space is a step too far and an unwarranted intrusion on individual freedom.

Background on the smoking ban (England)

A ban on smoking in the workplace, in enclosed and “substantially” enclosed public places (with certain limited exceptions) and in certain vehicles was implemented in England on 1 July 2007.  The regulations outlining smoking in vehicles were under the powers of the Health Bill: ‘The Smoke-free (Exemptions and Vehicles) Regulations’.

Exemptions to the smoking ban: smoking in cars

A vehicle does not have to be smokefree if:

  • It is used primarily for private purposes by a person who owns it or has a right to use it, which is not restricted to a particular journey.
  • It is used at work by one person only.
  • It has an open cab.

Highway Code

Rule 126 of the current edition of the Highway Code highlights the need to concentrate and avoid distractions while driving.  An updated version was published in September 2007 with the addition of ‘smoking’ in the list of potential distractions to be avoided.

Road traffic legislation already places responsibility on all drivers to have proper control of their vehicles.  Any motorist who fails to do so e.g. eating, drinking, smoking, using a hands-free mobile phone etc. is liable to prosecution.

A copy of the TMA briefing on Smoking in Cars is available to download here.