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MPs voted overwhelmingly this afternoon to ban smoking in cars where children under 18 were present.

The ban, which will take effect on 1st October this year and which will allow the government to enforce fines for breaches of the law in this area is viewed by some as a positive step forward in protecting children from the often deadly effects of passive smoking.

Exceptions to the ban include those driving in convertible cars with the top down.

This is not a new debate. In 2011, an Early Day Motion by several MPs raising the issue of second hand smoke in cars and effectively banning smoking with children present in private vehicles was well received but ultimately did not go on to become law. Three years later, and the Lords found themselves debating the same issue, in relation to the now ratified Children and Families Act 2014. Their proposed amendments though, which included compelling tobacco companies to use plain packaging for their products and banning smoking in homes where children were present, did not go on to become law either.

The proceedings in the House of Commons today have finally ensured that action surrounding passive smoking and children’s health can be taken. Although it is not clear yet where the law for this ban will go, or indeed if it will be a stand alone law of its own, the Health Act 2006 already gives the government relatively wide powers to legislate in relation to smoking bans in vehicles.

Researching Reform welcomes the ban. Our piece, which we wrote last year on the issue, can be accessed here – we say, don’t just ban smoking in cars, ban smoking in homes, too.