The decision to introduce a ban comes after Wales became the first country in the UK to tackle the issue of smoking in vehicles when children are present.
The Minister said the ban, which is subject to the approval of Assembly Members, will protect children from the avoidable harms associated with exposure to tobacco smoke, which can lead to a range of chronic diseases.
Research shows children are particularly at risk from exposure to second-hand smoke, in the confined spaces of a vehicle where they cannot escape the harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke.
A consultation about a proposed ban ran between September 11, 2014 and October 24, 2014. A total of 86% of respondents agreed that smoking in private vehicles should be prohibited when children under the age of 18 are present.
The changes will become part of the existing smoke-free laws. Regulations will be introduced before the National Assembly for Wales to:
- Make it an offence to smoke in a private vehicle with someone under the age of 18 is present;
- Make it an offence to fail to prevent smoking in a private vehicle when someone under the age of 18 is present.
The regulations will be subject to a vote in the National Assembly this summer and, if approved by AMs, will come into force on October 1, 2015. This is in line with similar proposals in England.
Enforcement of the proposed new law will largely be taken forward by police officers in conjunction with their wider functions on road safety. A £50 on-the-spot fine will apply to people caught flouting the new law.
Smoking causes serious harm to the health of smokers and to non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke. Smoking continues to be the largest single preventable cause of ill health and premature death in Wales, causing around 5,450 deaths in Wales in 2010.
Professor Drakeford said:
“Children and young people have the right to breathe clean air and enjoy smoke-free environments.
“Protecting children from exposure to second-hand smoke will help give them the best start in life. Exposure to second-hand smoke is a substantial threat to children’s health; it can leave them vulnerable to a variety of health conditions such as lower respiratory tract infections, asthma, middle ear disease and other serious infections.
“Introducing regulations to stop people smoking in cars carrying children will help us to do this.”
Wales’ Chief Medical Officer, Dr Ruth Hussey said:
“Children cannot escape from the toxic chemicals contained in second-hand smoke when travelling in vehicles.
“Changing the law to ban smoking in cars carrying children will protect them from the health harms associated with exposure to second-hand smoke in private vehicles, encourage action by smokers to protect children from second-hand smoke and lead to a reduction in health conditions in children caused by exposure to second-hand smoke.”