Ban on smok­ing in cars with chil­dren: En­force­ment through ed­u­ca­tion

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Ju­lian Bon­nici

War­den ser­vice op­er­a­tor Ken­neth De Martino yes­ter­day said that en­force­ment on the ban on smok­ing in cars with chil­dren will be achieved through ed­u­ca­tion, and that war­dens would be em­ploy­ing a sim­i­lar ap­proach to that which was used when the leg­is­la­tion re­gard­ing the use of seat­belts was in­tro­duced.

This means that war­dens and po­lice­men would be sta­tioned at cer­tain spots to specif­i­cally look out for this par­tic­u­lar vi­o­la­tion.

Con­tacted yes­ter­day, Mr De Martino said that while a war­den would is­sue a fine to an of­fender, the war­den’s pri­mary goal should be to in­form the driver that the ban is in force.

The train­ing of po­lice and war­dens would be­gin im­mi­nently, ahead of the ban be­ing in­tro­duced in Jan­uary ac­cord­ing to Mr De Martino and Health Min­is­ter Chris Fearne, who ad­dressed the sub­ject at a press con­fer­ence yes­ter­day.

Yes­ter­day, Mr Fearne said, “Hope­fully we will not need en­force­ment. Stud­ies over­seas have shown that th­ese mea­sures are ef­fec­tive at re­duc­ing the preva­lence of smok­ing in cars with­out in­creas­ing it in homes and other pri­vate spa­ces.”

Min­is­ter Fearne, who to­gether with the Health De­part­ment launched a ‘You smoke…they smoke’ campaign ex­plained that, “Sec­ond-hand smoke con­tains at least 250 toxic chem­i­cals, in­clud­ing more than 50 car­cino­gens. In chil­dren, there is ev­i­dence that it in­creases the like­li­hood of cot death, asthma, and long-term de­vel­op­men­tal lung dam­age.”

Mr De Martino said that the train­ing war­dens will re­ceive will pri­mar­ily in­volve teach­ing war­dens the cor­rect ap­proach to ed­u­cate the driv­ers about the soonto-be of­fence.

This news­room also spoke with Com­mis­sioner for Chil­dren Pauline Miceli, whose role is to en­sure chil­dren’s rights are pro­tected. She said her of­fice will push for the es­tab­lish­ment of proper mech­a­nisms for the en­force­ment of the ban and would also be mon­i­tor­ing the out­come of its re­sults.

At €50, the penalty for smok­ing in cars with chil­dren in Malta will carry the low­est fine in Europe for such an of­fence. While Ms Miceli be­lieves that, “harsher penal­ties would of course deter peo­ple”, she also stressed that, “the is­sue is about more than just getting caught break­ing the law. Rais­ing aware­ness re­gard­ing the im­pact of pas­sive smok­ing on chil­dren’s health is what we as an of­fice shall fo­cus on. Many par­ents, I be­lieve are re­spon­si­ble enough to abide by the law.”

Come Jan­uary, Malta will have be­come the sixth coun­try in Europe to in­tro­duce such a ban, fol­low­ing France (€68), Cyprus (€85), Ire­land (€100), Italy (up to €650) and the UK (£50).

Malta’s law will go fur­ther than some oth­ers in that it will also pe­nalise the use of e-cig­a­rettes, for which there is limited ev­i­dence of sec­ond-hand harm.

At €50, the penalty for smok­ing in cars with chil­dren in Malta will carry the low­est fine in Europe for such an of­fence

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