LONDON (AFP) - A new British law banning smoking in cars while children are present came into effect on Thursday (Oct 1), but police representatives said it will be "extremely challenging" to enforce.
Under the changes, which apply only in England and Wales, anyone found to be smoking with a passenger under 18 in the vehicle could be fined £50 (S$108), even if the windows are open.
A driver who fails to stop a passenger smoking in the same circumstances is also liable to be fined, in legislation aimed at protecting children from the effects of passive smoking.
The Scottish Parliament is considering bringing in a similar law next year.
Dr Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer for England, hailed the "landmark" legislation.
"Smoking just a single cigarette in a vehicle exposes children to high levels of air pollutants and cancer-causing chemicals like arsenic, formaldehyde and tar," she said.
But Mr Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, told AFP the ban would be "extremely challenging" to enforce.
"Our officers are telling us they cannot get to some quite serious incidents like burglaries... how are we going to resource this?" he asked, saying that the policing budget had been cut by 25 per cent in four years.
"This is largely a public health issue... we should be getting on with the job of being police officers," he said.
The changes follow an experiment by Newcastle University which found that levels of dangerous chemicals were over 100 times higher than recommended safety guidelines when a passenger was smoking - even with windows open.
On 20-minute journeys replicating the school run, researchers found that levels of toxic particles known as PM2.5 were more than 200 times over the safe limits with windows closed and fans on.