Following the recent English example, the Scottish parliament has just passed the first hurdle to putting in place a bill to ban smoking in cars carrying children.
The plan is to fine drivers found smoking with children in the car £100. This amount is double that which our English counterparts will have to pay if they fall foul of the same rule.
The bill was introduced by the Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume, who said that “This legislation is not about raising revenue or forcing people to stop smoking… It is designed to purely prevent acute exposure of children to second-hand smoke and put an end to the anxiety they are subjected to.”
But with the Scottish Police force already at breaking point, and with a recent survey suggesting that one in 3 Officers are looking to leave the force within the next three years, are the measures going to simply put too much strain on an already stretched police force? Or will the will officers even bother to enforce the legislation, in which case is there even any point in bringing it into force?
This is a matter which has been canvassed south of the border, with Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation, commenting that 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?”.
In England, there has been an acknowledgement by the police that there will be a ‘light-touch’ approach to the smoking ban in cars, which has caused many to question its importance. 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 therefore begs the question- what is the pointing in spending valuable time and resources bringing this legislation through the parliament?
Others however have commented that such a move mirrors that of the approach which was taken when the smoking ban in enclosed public places was introduced in 2007. It was initially met with hostility, and was not made a priority by police or council officials, yet seems to have progressed our attitudes and behaviour towards smoking to some extent. But is it simply part of a larger campaign- to make smoking socially unacceptable?
The topic is open for debate. Should we bother to have a smoking ban in cars in Scotland? We would be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter.