No reason not to ban smoking in cars with children

Baby on board sticker in a car window - Photo by Steve and Sara Emry on Flickr, used under terms of a Creative Commons LicenceOver 700 health experts have urged MPs to vote in favour of a ban on smoking in cars where children are present. The debate is notable for the fact that everyone agrees that smoking in a car when accompanied by a child is wrong, and shouldn’t be done under any circumstances. Yet some people still argue that it shouldn’t be made illegal. One of the most prominent is Nick Clegg, a smoker, who takes exactly this line.

If something really is such a terrible thing to do, and people shouldn’t be thinking about doing it under any circumstances, why would they not want it banned by law? If decent, civil, law-abiding person would never carry out a particular activity, what’s wrong with making it illegal? The only people who would be disadvantaged by the new law are people who are irresponsible, reckless and intent on damaging a child’s health. The only reason I can see for opposing a ban is because the opponent – Nick Clegg, for example – would actually put the so-called “rights” of an adult smoker ahead of the health of a defenceless child. The argument that a ban is illiberal doesn’t hold water. If it’s something that no decent-minded person would do anyway, what rights or freedoms it is taking away? Otherwise, one may as well propose abolishing laws against murder on the grounds that murder is wrong and no-one should do it anyway.

The other argument is that the law shouldn’t be introduced because it can’t be enforced, and that education alone will suffice. It’s interesting to compare this proposed law to the law on wearing seatbelts, where enforcement has much the same challenges. It’s rare now for people in the UK to fail to wear a seatbelt, but that’s due both to public education campaigns and to laws mandating the wearing of seatbelts. No one with a driving licence should be in any doubt that they are responsible for ensuring any children in their car wear seatbelts as it’s clearly spelt out in the Highway Code. A reminder that they should prevent adults from smoking in their car would be useful too. Opponents of the law on banning smoking in cars should logically oppose the law on seatbelts too, but how many of them would actually do so? In the future, we’ll look back and wonder why smoking was ever allowed if a child was present in a vehicle, just as we would find it hard today to imagine the wearing of seatbelts not being compulsory.

2 responses to “No reason not to ban smoking in cars with children”

  1. Dave Brown

    Whatever you think about the principle – and I am very much in favour of it – this legislation flies in the face of one of the basic tenants of out unwritten constitution. Unless urgent events dictate otherwise governments are only entitled to enact legislation for which they have a mandate as set out in their literature prior to the general election.

    Now the fact that smoke in confined spaces is injurious to children has been known for a long time. It is not something that has been discovered since the last election. So why was this legislation not included in the Conservative manifesto?

  2. Davis Rodriguez

    I abide by your arguments on banning smoking is incorrect. But do you know a fact most of the tax comes from cigarettes. If banned our country’s economy will be affected badly. Businessman will have to pay tax double of what they were paying. So, if you all are ready for this then I completely support you. If you are ready to pay more tax then you are most welcome.

    In my opinion, when alternate solution persists then why to go to hell by getting addicted to smoking. Children who beside see you smoke, have you ever imagined to what extent it can affect them. People know the dangers of smoking and still step into it and when something good is going to happen you then you start arguing. Isn’t it a good decision to ban smoking to save you and your child’s life? Just think about it.

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