Changes to the law on the road​

New regulations for smoking in cars with children and child booster seats are being introduced in the UK. Here’s what you need to know.

Smoking in Cars Ban

It became illegal in England and Wales to smoke in a vehicle with children on board in October 2015 and now Scotland has followed with a higher fine for those caught. Introduced to protect children from second-hand smoke, the legislation was unanimously passed at Holyrood in 2015 and has now come into force in Scotland.

In England and Wales, drivers caught smoking in a vehicle with anyone under the age of 18 would face a fine of £50. Scotland has increased this amount up to £1,000.

Scotland’s Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said the purpose of the law was to change behaviour rather than punish people.

Research shows that second-hand smoke can cause serious conditions including bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma.

Ms Campbell said: "It's simply not safe to smoke when a child is in the car. Dangerous levels of chemicals can build up, even on short journeys, and 85% of second-hand smoke is invisible and odourless so you can't always see what they're breathing in.

"We know for a fact that the poisonous chemicals in second-hand smoke are extremely damaging to our health. We also know that children breathe faster than adults, meaning they ingest more of the deadly toxins."

Child Car Seats

From March 2017, there will be new rules regarding backless booster seats that will affect the whole of the UK. There has been some confusion amongst parents who don’t fully understand the right height age and weight regulations for children’s car seats. So, we’re going to attempt to simplify this.

At the moment, parents can use backless booster seats for children who weigh 15kg (2st 5lbs) and above – typically aged three and over.

The new rules coming into force next year will specify only children weighing over 22kg (3st 7lbs) who are also over 125cm (4ft 1ins) tall can use the seats.

This comes after the United Nations, which sets the safety standards for car seats, approved the change which must now be implemented by the EU.

The main facts:

  • It will be enforced around February/March next year.
  • Currently, a child can use a booster cushion from 15kg of weight.
  • From next year, the new products that come onto the market will only be approved for children over 22kg in weight and over 125cm in height.
  • Parents can use their current child booster seats, this law only applies to new purchases made in February/March.

To read more about the changes to child car seats here.