Wed. Aug 10th, 2022

Health Minister Robin Swann has said he intends to impose a ban on smoking in cars when children are passengers and fined drivers £ 50 if they breach the proposed legislation.

-cigarettes sold to young people under 18 would also be made illegal under his proposal.

When Swann announced his plans on Sunday, Swann insisted that tobacco use remains “a primary cause of preventable ill health and premature death” in Northern Ireland.

“It is crucial that we maximize our efforts to reduce the incidence of smoking and protect people, especially children, from the effects of secondhand smoke,” he said.

There is already legislation banning smoking in certain premises, places and vehicles, including in public transport and in work vehicles used by more than one person.

The proposed new rules will extend the current smoke-free regulations to private vehicles where children are present when there is more than one person in the car and the vehicle is closed.

It is also proposed that failure to prevent smoking in a smoke-free private vehicle will be made an offense.

The plan has been criticized by smokers’ lobby group, Forest, who labeled it a “complete waste of legislative time and money”.

At present, the enforcement of smoke-free legislation is the sole responsibility of the district councils.

However, the draft regulations on smoking in private vehicles propose the adoption of a dual enforcement method between the District Council and the PSNI for all smoke-free vehicles.

Failure to pay a fixed penalty can result in the case being referred to court according to plans.

In sentencing for an offense in relation to smoking in a smoke-free vehicle, a court can impose a fine of a maximum of 1,000 pounds, while a court in sentencing for an offense for not preventing smoking in a smoke-free vehicle can impose a fine of no more than DKK 2,500.

Swann said: “Children and adolescents are more vulnerable to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke as they breathe faster and inhale more pollutants per kilogram of body weight than adults.

The Royal College of Physicians has reported that this can lead to an increased risk of asthma, lower respiratory tract infections, otitis media, bronchitis, bacterial meningitis and sudden infant death syndrome, as well as impaired respiratory function.

“These planned rules will play an important role in protecting children from the harms of nicotine addiction and tobacco use.”

The health minister added: “I expect these rules, subject to the approval of the assembly, to be operational early next year.”

Proposals to prevent the sale of nicotine inhalation products, such as e-cigarettes, to anyone under the age of 18 will be made under the Health Miscellaneous Provisions Act (NI) 2016.

The 2019 survey of young people’s behaviors and attitudes (YPBAS) reported that 3% of 11-16 year olds use e-cigarettes regularly, at least once a week.

It would also be an offense to purchase such products on behalf of a child. These offenses reflect current offenses related to tobacco sales.

Swann said: “Nicotine is highly addictive, and according to the World Health Organization, exposure to nicotine while still in adolescence can lead to long-term consequences for brain development.

“In addition to the potential long-term health consequences of e-cigarette use by teens, there are also concerns that they may act as a gateway to smoking.

“The prevalence of smoking among young people in Northern Ireland has been steadily declining in recent years and I do not want to see this trend reversed because young people who may not have first been induced to smoke became addicted to nicotine instead. through e-cigarettes. ”

Simon Clark, director of the smoking group Forest, said the ban had already been implemented in other UK regions, which he claimed had resulted in “a complete waste of legislative time and money”.

“Since the exercise was banned in England and Scotland, you can count on the number of successful prosecutions on the fingers of one hand,” he said.

“This is because even before the legislation was introduced, very few adults smoked in cars with children because the overwhelming majority knew it was ruthless and did not.

“In this case, politicians should stick out of people’s lives and trust that they use their common sense, which most of us do.

“Instead, this is a springboard for banning smoking in all private vehicles, regardless of the presence of children and other private spaces that should be out of government reach.”

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