Europe

Smoking in cars with children to be banned in the Republic of Ireland

Smoker holding cigarette beside child in vehicle
Image caption Police will enforce the new law and anyone caught smoking while they are inside a vehicle with a person under the age of 18 will have to pay a 100 euros (£73) fine

A ban on smoking in vehicles when children are present will come into effect in the Republic of Ireland on New Year's Day, 1 January 2016.

Anyone caught smoking in a vehicle in front of a child or youth under the age of 18 will be fined 100 euros (£73).

Failure to pay the fine, or to stop a vehicle and give personal details to the police could lead to a prosecution and 1,000 euros (£727) penalty.

A similar ban is being considered by the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Earlier this month, Stormont Health Minister Simon Hamilton announced an amendment to a bill currently going through the assembly, which if passed, would now mean smoking in cars with children would be illegal anywhere on the island of Ireland.

'Enclosed spaces'

The Irish government signed its ban into law this week, under the Protection of Children's Health (Tobacco Smoke in Mechanically Propelled Vehicles) Act.

The details were announced by Minister for Children Dr James Reilly and Minister for Health Leo Varadkar.

Image copyright Irish Govenment News Service
Image caption Health Minister Leo Varadkar (L) and Minister for Children James Reilly (R) posed with five-year-old Millie Sunderland and 11-year-old Fionn O'Callaghan to publicise the forthcoming ban

Mr Reilly said it was a central part of his government's "Tobacco Free Ireland" policy.

"The Irish Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) Study 2014 found that nearly one in every five children between the ages of 10 and 17 years are exposed to toxic, carcinogenic smoke in cars," he said.

"Even if windows of the car are open the young person is not protected from the harmful effect of second-hand smoke."

Mr Varadkar said: "Children are more susceptible to the effects of second-hand smoke and may not be able to avoid exposure.

"Second hand smoke is particularly harmful to children in enclosed spaces, such as cars."

Under the new law, drivers and passengers will be banned from smoking cigarettes, cigars or pipes when they are inside a vehicle with someone under the age of 18.

Drivers will also be held responsible if they allow their passengers to smoke in front of children.

The legislation does not apply to electronic cigarettes, which are exempt from the ban.

In Great Britain, a law banning smoking in vehicles carrying children came into force in England and Wales in October.

The Scotland government is planning to legislate on the issue next year.

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