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« Zero tolerance for zero tolerance | Main | Eat, drink, smoke, vape »

Mayor urged to consider "other options" to stop people smoking in cars with kids

It is widely agreed that the law banning smoking in cars carrying children is unenforceable.

The police have better things to do and so far I've not heard of a single prosecution.

London, it seems, is no different to other parts of the country. Yesterday it was revealed that the Metropolitan Police has stopped just two drivers who were smoking in their cars with a child present since the law was introduced, and neither was charged.

This seems a reasonable response to a very minor issue. Others aren't so happy. In a statement Conservative London Assembly member Steve O'Connell said:

"Just because the police cannot tackle the problem, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Given that the Met is unable to provide a deterrent, I hope the Mayor will look at other options to prevent children in London breathing second hand smoke in cars."

Other options? O'Connell doesn't elaborate so I can only speculate.

One, the Mayor will create squads of volunteer vigilantes (on bicycles, naturally) to monitor every car in the capital.

Two, drivers observed smoking with a child in the car will be named and shamed in the London Evening Standard.

Three, their cars will be confiscated and their children taken into care.

But wait, perhaps I've done O'Connell a disservice. In this Evening Standard report he says:

"Clearly criminalising it has not been an effective way of cracking down on this issue," he said.

"I believe this is a health issue, not a policing one, and promoting an educational approach within the health service would be a far more effective way of stopping parents exposing their children to such harmful chemicals.

"The police have better things to do and it is clear that making this illegal is not working."

I agree that an educational approach would be far better. In fact this is exactly what Forest argued before the law was introduced.

We also said the law would be unenforceable.

Unfortunately the politicians who agreed with us were relatively few in number and I'm pretty sure Steve O'Connell wasn't one of them.

Meanwhile, here's an idea. Before the taxpayer is forced to pay for measures that are out of all proportion to the 'problem', perhaps the Mayor could commission some research.

For example, researchers could observe drivers in London during peak times (when parents are driving their kids to school, or at weekends) and monitor how many are smoking in cars carrying children.

They've done it in Dublin where eight out of 2,230 drivers were observed smoking while driving and only one had a child with them. Why can't they do the same thing in London?

The Government should of course have done this before introducing legislation in the UK but why let the reality that very few people smoke in cars with children derail legislation that is both pointless and unforceable.

Truth is, the ban on smoking in cars with children was never about health. It's a stepping stone towards the prohibition of smoking in all private vehicles and, after that, other private spaces where children might be present.

The ban on smoking in children's play areas is based on the same strategy.

As a 'Conservative' perhaps Mr O'Connell would consider whether it's appropriate for the state to intrude to such an extent in people's lives.

I know! We'll invite him to our reception (Eat, Drink, Smoke, Vape) at the Conservative conference in Birmingham next month when we can ask him.

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Reader Comments (4)

Another example of the hysteria surrounding the issue.

Talk to kids in Syria about "chemicals" or "poison" and I think they would laugh at the privileged First World accusing their smoker parents of being more of a threat to their own children than ISIS or Assad.

The law was never meant to "protect" children but hype up the hysteria while promoting the idea that smoker parents are such "pathetic addicts" they cannot even control themselves in front of their children.

The move was designed to stigmatise and abuse people who smoke further, while criminalising legal activity to ensure more revenue into the treasury to replace tax lost from quitters. The only way to replace it is to criminalise people who still smoke and therefore get more out of them than the relative measly amount of tax in comparison to hefty fines.

It was never and is not about health but hysteria, hatred, money, and ideology. Govt should be protecting us from the smokerphobics shamefully pushing the agenda of criminalisation on false grounds.

Friday, September 9, 2016 at 12:52 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Pat Nurse is correct, it's not about health, it's about stigmatisation but mostly about money.
1, make smoking in cars with kids illegal
2, Admit the police haven't time to enforce it (they were never expected to)
3 Wait for ASH etc to start screaming about how kids are let down by non-enforcement, allow time for whinging to get publicity.
4, make all smoking in cars illegal to 'aid enforcement'.
5, Allow local councils or NHS to 'police' the ban using fixed penalties.
6, wait for money to roll in.
7, when people complain of unfairness and over-reach point out that the law has been in effect for X no of years.

Friday, September 9, 2016 at 15:54 | Unregistered Commenterwoodsy42

8, cite a "great success" and add into all next year's quango's budgets, more money needed for hiring additional high level staff, for more taxpayer funding to "fight the epidemic".

Friday, September 9, 2016 at 21:29 | Unregistered CommenterJason

I agree this smoking ban like all others is based on lies and exaggeration. the health risk from second hand smoke was manufactured to denormalize smoking. These lies must be countered and reversed.

Saturday, September 10, 2016 at 6:00 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

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