There were a great many people, both smokers as well as non-smokers, that predicted that the law which was passed preventing people from smoking in cars with children in them, was completely unworkable. Looking at the figures which were obtained for the county of Oxfordshire by the newspaper the Oxford Mail, the predictions were absolutely correct, as not a single person has been punished, been referred to court, fined or even warned for committing the driving offence since the law came into effect last October.
This is understandable as, certainly in the case of one particular police authority, Thames Valley, they have said that their officers will not go out of their way to stop drivers breaking the law. Head of roads policing for Thames Valley Police, Chief Inspector Henry Parsons said in a statement: “Officers focus enforcement activity on reducing the numbers of people who die or who are seriously injured on the roads through targeted enforcement of speed, distraction, drink or drug driving and seatbelt offences.” He went on to say that all police forces had been advised to take a discretionary approach by using an advisory and non-confrontational approach when enforcing the new legislation.
Not everyone is concerned that there have been no convictions under the new law, for example Hilary Hibbert-Biles, the Public Health Cabinet Member for Oxfordshire County Council, said she is happy the smoking ban was introduced. “For me, the existence of the law and the message that sends out is more important than the number of prosecutions.” When approached anti-smoking group Smokefreelife Oxfordshire declined to comment on the issue.
The legislation, which came in last October, aims to protect young people under 18 from second-hand smoke, but police insist are more concerned with other road crimes.