New ban on smoking in a vehicle when accompanied by a child

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Couple arguing over smoking in the car.

FOLLOWING the example set by countries such as America, Canada, France and the UK, the Government of Gibraltar has announced that with effect from March 31 of this year, it will be an offence for an adult to smoke in an enclosed motor vehicle when there is a child in the vehicle and the vehicle is in a public place. 

In this context, an ‘adult’ means a person over the age of 18, a ‘child’ is someone under the age of 18 and an ‘enclosed’ vehicle is one that is enclosed wholly or partly by a roof.

Presumably, two 17-year-olds could smoke with impunity in a car without this being an offence under the new law although they would be in breach of the Children and Young Persons act of 2006 and would be required to surrender their cigarettes if instructed to do so by a police officer.

This change in legislation is designed to protect children and young people from the damaging effects of second-hand smoke, which can put them at risk of serious conditions such as meningitis, asthma, cancer, bronchitis and pneumonia.

The new legislation follows the Smoke-Free Environment Act 2012 which made it an offence to smoke in enclosed public places and in public service vehicles in Gibraltar although no mention of ‘vapor cigarettes’ appears to have been made with regards to this new legislation although no doubt there will be a period of adjustment.

Minister for Health, Dr John Cortes said, “This new legislation is designed to protect our children from second-hand smoke. Smoking just a single cigarette in a vehicle exposes children to high levels of air pollutants and cancer-causing chemicals like arsenic, formaldehyde and tar. People often wrongly assume that opening a window, or letting in fresh air, will lessen the damage.”

“The new law applies to any private vehicle enclosed wholly or partly by a roof, even if the window is open, the air conditioning is on or the smoker is sitting in the open doorway of the vehicle. Research in UK has shown that, even with a car window open, levels of dangerous chemicals are over 100 times higher than recommended safety guidelines. No matter what the situation, children will always be exposed to dangerous chemicals which can put them at risk of developing serious health conditions.”

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