Smokers with kids in England and Wales will have to park before they light up a cigarette from now on.
The United Kingdom government today announced a new law in effect that prohibits people from smoking in the car with a child. Those who choose to do so with a child under 18 years old age will face a $75 fine. The driver will face the same fine regardless if he or she is the one smoking in the vehicle.
The UK government gave the following explanation for the rule change.
Every time a child breathes in secondhand smoke, they breathe in thousands of chemicals. This puts them at risk of serious conditions, such as meningitis, cancer and respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. It can also make asthma worse.
Secondhand smoke is dangerous for anyone, but children are especially vulnerable, because they breathe more rapidly and have less developed airways, lungs and immune systems.
"Over 80 percent of cigarette smoke is invisible and opening windows does not remove its harmful effect. The law has changed to protect children and young people from such harm."
In the UK, tobacco causes a fifth of all deaths in the country and makes up a quarter of all cancer deaths. The implications of second-hand smoke seem to be just as dire, especially for kids. According to Smokefree, a public health campaign back by Public Health England and the Department of Health, smoking around children will make them more likely to smoke themselves, and leads to asthma, breathing problems and lung issues. Not only that, but three-quarters of kids whose parents smoke worry their mom or dad will die from it.
Though effective immediately, law officials told AP that they'll go easy on enforcement for the first three months to give the general population time to get used to the new rule. The rule doesn't apply to vaping (electronic cigarettes).
Anti-smoking advocates such as Penny Woods, chief of the British Lung Foundation, applaud the decision.
"Today is truly a cause for celebration for all those who care about protecting the health of generations to come," she told the AP.