Plea to ban drivers from smoking
Last updated at 11:22am on 14th May 2007

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Road safety campaigners are urging the Government to ban smoking at the wheel.

Drivers caught lighting up would be given a 60 fine and three penalty points added to their licence under plans put forward by the Local Authority Road Safety Officers' Association, which represents councils across the UK.

From July 1, smokers in England will be banned from lighting up in enclosed public places and at work. The ban is already in place in the rest of the UK.

This means that smokers who drive company vehicles will not be allowed to light up while driving, even if there is no one else in the car

Alison Ferst, a spokesman for LARSOA, said a total ban on lighting up in cars would be a natural progression.

"Smoking is one of the most dangerous things you can do while you are driving and it needs to be taken far more seriously," she said.

"Driving at speed on a busy motorway requires a great deal of attention. Drivers who smoke at the wheel are putting themselves and innocent road users at risk, particularly if a lit cigarette falls in the car or if ash is blown back through the window.

"We would like those who are caught smoking while driving to face a similar punishment to drivers who used handheld mobile phones, which has recently been raised to a 60 fine and three penalty points."

If the plans are adopted, smoking would join a list of banned activities, including eating, drinking and reading, which the Department of Transport says can prevent a driver having "proper control".

Neil Rafferty, a spokesman for the smokers' rights group Forest, said the plan had been dreamt up by "antismoking fanatics".

"The only study ever commissioned was in Spain and it found that talking to passengers and changing CDs was a far greater distraction than smoking."