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Coffee House

Is it better to ban smoking in cars containing children than in pubs?

3 February 2014

4:39 PM

3 February 2014

4:39 PM

Whenever you cross from Washington, DC into the state of Virginia, you’re met with a sign saying ‘Buckle up Virginia, it’s a law we can live with’. The sign is meant to persuade people in a state where libertarianism runs deep to put their seatbelts on. But, even in the four years I lived in Washington, the sign became to feel rather out of date. Buckling up had become the norm.

I wonder whether the same will happen with the proposed ban on smoking in cars when children are present. At the moment, the idea seems unenforceable, nanny statism taken to the max. But it is worth remembering how quickly attitudes to these things change. Just eight years ago, I worked in an office where people smoked at their desks—something that seems like something from another age today. Even more remarkably, smoking was allowed on the Tube until 30 years ago.

In many ways, there is a better argument for a ban on people smoking in cars with children than there is for one on smoking in pubs. Pubs are full of adults who have made a conscious decision to go in, they know the risks of being in a smoky environment. By contrast, children in cars have little choice over the matter.

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