Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Smoking ban in private vehicles

The latest wheeze from the BMA is to call for smoking to be banned in private vehicles. I'd be amused at their naivety that they think Parliament can even do this if it weren't for the way that the previous smoking ban was handled.

The existing legislation wasn't included as part of Health and Safety regulations that businesses have to comply with to operate in this country it was instead tied in to the Health Act 2006. The sting in the tail is comes from sections 4 and 5 whereby:

4   Additional smoke-free places

  1. The appropriate national authority may make regulations designating as smoke-free any place or description of place that is not smoke-free under section 2.
  2. The place, or places falling within the description, need not be enclosed or substantially enclosed.
  3. The appropriate national authority may designate a place or description of place under this section only if in the authority's opinion there is a significant risk that, without a designation, persons present there would be exposed to significant quantities of smoke.
  4. The regulations may provide for such places, or places falling within the description, to be smoke-free only—
    1. in specified circumstances,
    2. at specified times,
    3. if specified conditions are satisfied,
    4. in specified areas,or any combination of those.
5   Vehicles
  1. The appropriate national authority may make regulations providing for vehicles to be smoke-free.
  2. The regulations may in particular make provision—
    1. for the descriptions of vehicle which are to be smoke-free,
    2. for the circumstances in which they are to be smoke-free,
    3. for them to be smoke-free only in specified areas, or except in specified areas,
    4. for exemptions. 
The most important point is that the requirement to do so for any "place" includes the need that there be a significant risk whereas there are no requirements for vehicles at all. So a simple Statutory Instrument that can only be approved or rejected by Parliament, and is traditionally given the nod by the House of Lords, is all that is required to ban smoking in every vehicle in this country with no requirement to justify their inclusion.