The law will be changed to ban smoking in cars carrying children next month, it emerged today.
Legislation is expected to be passed in December, with the ban coming into force from October next year.
The new law will apply to anyone carrying children in a car, not just parents.
Legislation is expected to be passed next month to enforce a ban on smoking in a car carrying children from October next year
In an historic vote in February, Tory and Lib Dem MPs backed plans to make it illegal to light up in a car in England, punishable by a £60 fine or points on a motorist’s licence.
It came after Prime Minister David Cameron the ’time has come’ for a ban, brushing aside claims from his Lib Dem deputy Nick Clegg who branded the ban illiberal and unenforceable.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has since been consulting on the detail of the law changes, which will be made under provisions in the Children and Families Act.
The ban is expected to come into force in October 2015, the Sunday Times reported.
The small print of the consultation paper suggested drivers who fail to stop passengers smoking in front of a child face fines of up to £10,000 – a much higher penalty than the maximum £800 fine for the passenger who lights up.
Car smoking ban ‘won’t work’ says Clegg
Enforcement officers would be able to issue a £50 fixed penalty notice both for smoking in the vehicle and failure to prevent smoking in the vehicle.
If the case goes to court, the maximum fine will soar to £800 for someone caught smoking in a car carrying a child and £10,000 for a driver who fails to prevent someone else smoking.
It raises the prospect of a driver – or even just the owner – of a car being fined if another adult starts smoking unless they can show they took ‘reasonable steps’ to stop the person lighting up.
The final details of the law change and the penalty will be announced by ministers shortly.
MPs voted by 376 votes to 107, majority 269, in favour of an amendment to the Children and Families Bill which gives the Health Secretary power to impose a ban.
Public health minister Jane Ellison said: ‘We want to protect children from the harms associated with second-hand smoke and the Government will proceed with the introduction of regulations to end smoking in private vehicles carrying children in England.’
Campaign group Ash – Action on Smoking and Health – had urged ministers to bring in the law change before May’s General Election.
Chief executive Deborah Arnott said: ‘Cars are small tin boxes where concentrations of tobacco smoke can reach dangerous levels very quickly.
‘The time has come for it to be illegal to make children breathe in these toxic fumes.’
But Simon Clark, director of smokers’ group Forest, said: ‘A ban is excessive and unnecessary.
‘Smoking in cars with children has been in decline for years. Today very few people do it because the overwhelming majority of smokers accept that it’s inconsiderate.’
The toxic fumes deployed from smoking in a care are 11 times more concentrated than lighting up in an open space.
An opinion poll in 2012 by YouGov found that 80 per cent of all adults and 65 per cent of smokers backed a ban on smoking in cars with children under 18.
A Department of Health survey found 300,000 children a year visited GPs in England every year with problems linked to second-hand smoke.
Passive smoking is linked to respiratory infections such as pneumonia and chest infections in youngsters.
It can also trigger asthma attacks in sufferers and contribute to sudden unexpected infant death.