Ban on smoking in cars with children: Enforcement through education
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