Risks and possible legal changes

Lighting up a cigarette while driving at 100km/h means traveling 113 meters without paying attention to the road, a dangerous distraction that could put your safety at risk for 4.1 seconds.

The Directorate General of Transport has issued a warning about the risks of smoking while driving, stressing the need to raise awareness of the practice which, while not explicitly banned, can have consequences for road safety and health.

Is smoking prohibited in the car?

Smoking while driving is not directly prohibited by the General Traffic Regulations (RGC) or the Road Safety Act.

However, the issue of distraction is mentioned in RGC Article 18.1, which stipulates that the driver is obliged to maintain his freedom of movement, vision and continuous attention to driving to ensure his own safety, the safety of his occupants and passengers. road users.

This article provides a basis for traffic officials to sanction drivers in situations where safety is clearly endangered by distraction while driving by smoking.

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Although the Directorate-General of Transport has no immediate plans to ban smoking while driving, the Ministry of Health may push for public health regulations to address the issue in the future.

The National Council on Smoking Prevention advocates for expanding smoke-free spaces, including banning smoking in cars, especially in the presence of children and pregnant women.

Although similar measures were being discussed under the Ministry of Health’s Tobacco Reforms, the change of government and the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic paralyzed the measures.

Currently, countries such as Australia, Cyprus, France, the United Kingdom, South Africa, some U.S. states, and Canadian regions have banned smoking in cars when children or pregnant women are riding in them.

Risks of smoking while driving

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In addition to distraction, smoking while driving poses additional risks to road safety and health:

  1. Effects of Tobacco Smoke: Tobacco smoke affects motor and cognitive abilities, reducing reflexes and reflexes while driving. Concentration is crucial while driving, and tobacco smoke can negatively affect concentration.
  2. Carbon monoxide: Carbon monoxide produced by smoking can reduce oxygenation in the passenger compartment, causing fatigue, drowsiness, headaches, irritability, and changes in heart rate and blood pressure.
  3. Lower visibility: Smoke inside a vehicle can reduce visibility and increase the potential for burns and distraction if soot lands on the interior or driver.

In addition to these risks, tobacco smoke has significant health effects on drivers and passengers.

It contains more than 7,000 substances, of which at least 250 are harmful and 70 are carcinogenic.

These substances remain in the car and are inhaled for weeks despite opening the windows, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, tumors and chronic bronchitis.

The risk to children is particularly concerning, as 30% of the world’s deaths from passive smoking are children.

Exposure to tobacco smoke in an enclosed vehicle quadruples the risk of lung cancer in these children as adults.

Throwing cigarette butts out of window: fine and demerit points

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Although smoking while driving is not prohibited, throwing cigarette butts out of the window is. Regulations punish this behavior with a fine of 200 euros and a loss of 4 points on the license, and 3% of fires in the past 10 years were caused by cigarette butts.

In summary, while there is no direct ban on smoking while driving, the risks to road safety and health are clear.

Awareness of these risks can drive future legal changes to ensure safer and healthier travel for all vehicle occupants.

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