Simon Hamilton takes aim at smoking in cars with children

Simon Hamilton has proposed an amendment to the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) bill which will aim to ban smoking in cars with children.

According to the British Lung Foundation around 430,000 children are exposed to second hand smoke in cars in the UK each week.

This proposal has been in effective since 1st October in England. I am not totally sure what the penalties will be if you’re caught (In England the fine is £50 and e-cigarettes are exempt) but some analysis from when it came in said;

Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation, said it would be “extremely challenging” to enforce the ban.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The reality of the situation is we are struggling to attend burglaries.

“Should we be focusing on people smoking in cars with children in the cars or should we be focusing on burglaries?”

A National Police Chiefs’ Council spokeswoman said: “Police forces will be taking an educational, advisory and non-confrontational approach when enforcing the new legislation.

“This would see people being given warnings rather than being issued with fines, which would give time for public awareness of the offences to build.”


The SDLP’s Fearghal McKinney has also tabled an amendment on this issue today saying after the debate;

The Department of Health’s own statistics show that 15% of adults smoke with their children present in their car and this is having serious health implications for those children. In my view this is totally unacceptable.

The ill-effects of second-hand smoke on children are now well established and it is devastating to children’s health and wellbeing. Studies have shown that there is no safe level of exposure, not least in an enclosed vehicle. Every time someone smokes a cigarette, they breathe in a lethal cocktail of toxins and other harmful chemicals. The danger only increases for children breathing smoke.

Public support of the ban is well established. Clinicians, charities and the public have spoken and it is now time for delivery and that is why I have tabled an amendment to ban smoking in cars with children.

This is exactly what has happened in other jurisdictions on these islands. Scotland, Wales and the Republic are all legislating on the issue while England has already introduced a ban which came into force in October this year. There is now a great risk that children in Northern Ireland will be left behind to suffer the detrimental effects of passive smoke.


What you think? An impossible ask? Or a progressive piece of legislation?

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  • OneNI

    Great news. Good to see NI brought into line with rest of UK (on this issue anyhow)
    Enforcement is not really the issue it is about NI society sending a clear signal via the Assembly to the tiny number of smokers who smoke with kids in the cars that their behaviour is wrong

  • chrisjones2

    Great. I welcome this. He should also ban all smoking on NHS sites in NI as well including those who queue at the doors of our major hospitals.

    I cannot but remark however, that we can do this but we cannot deal with vulnerable and frightened women forced to carry a dead foetus with an FFA knowing that it may kill her. It has no chance of life and a reasonable prospect of damaging her physically and psychologically but she cannot be helped

    Come on Simon. Prove to us all that you are better than this!!

  • AndyB

    I agree that smoking in cars with children present should be banned, but the reality is it will not be enforced, unless the driver is pulled over for another offence or stopped at a vehicle checkpoint.

  • Vinny Gracchus

    This isn’t about health; it’s about social control. This is another step toward total prohibition and persecution of smokers. Most parents already avoid smoking in cars with children. This proposed law is overbearing and draconian.

  • Korhomme

    Smoking when driving is just dangerous; a lack of concentration on the road, a concentration on the fag. And it’s (probably) dangerous for the kids.

    Much as I think that our Executive are a bunch of idiots, for once I must agree with them.

    Whether – and how – it can be enforced is another problem.

  • steve white

    speaking of tobacco Ian Paisley and Danny Kinahan given Rugby World Cup tickets by JTI Gallaher declared them in MPs register

  • Sir Rantsalot

    Hang on a mo. Isn’t my car my own property and my own space like inside my home?? Do not try and tell me what I can and can’t do in my own car…. flip’n cheek of them!

  • chrisjones2

    Yeah but you cant kill your partner and poison your kids at home either

  • chrisjones2

    I am shocked …that they declared them

  • Lorcs1

    It probably wont be enforced by the statutory agencies but I think we’d find that social pressure would help enforce this. Much the same way that there arent armed gangs of government agents ready to pounce on anyone who lights up insie a workplace, bans quickly become the norm and its soon socially unacceptable to be seen breaking them.

  • Hugh Davison

    Agree with you 100% on this.

  • Hugh Davison

    And the other ones who don’t? I don’t normally intervene in the affairs of another citizen, but the sight of someone at a petrol station fuming away with a bunch of captive kids in the back seat just tears my guts.

  • Vinny Gracchus

    Education is a better solution than the coercive force of the state.

  • Hugh Davison

    Education? Isn’t that, like, when the state coerces you into going to school?

  • Vinny Gracchus

    The state does not coerce adults to attend school.

  • 23×7

    I agree this does appear a bit inconsistent. Will smoking at home be banned if there are children in the house? Why is the ban only for kids and not a general ban when there are passengers in the car?

  • Bedhead1157

    The sight of someone smoking in a petrol station is more alarming because of the real possibility of blowing the place sky high……

  • Zig70

    Great, just a pity there are no cops to enforce it or mobiles in cars or jumping red lights. No point in any laws for traffic with no traffic branch.

  • Hugh Davison

    Yes, ha ha. I don’t mean outside the car, but in the car, waiting for partner to come back from paying.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Traditionally, the carrot and the stick work together.

  • Vinny Gracchus

    Only when needed. The stick in this case is coercive an an affront to liberty.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    You’d support banning hats, sun glasses, hanging fluffy dice, playing music then? They all distract. It’s all stupidly too far.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Vinny, conventional “education” IS the stick, it’s coercion “Lite”, and I’d suggest that manipulation through curriculum (and the “dark sarcasm in the classroom”, to quote Roger Waters) along with the culture of “marketing” politics are, in their own little way just as much “an affront to liberty” as the rubber truncheon and water boarding approach to healthy non-smoking.

  • Korhomme

    Seat belts? Drunk driving? Helmets for cyclists and bikers?

    Yours are bad analogies. Try again.