Lighting up at the wheel puts both you and those around you in jeopardy
19 February 2007

Germany could ban smoking in cars after a study found that the habit is a big safety risk to all road users. Speaking to Autocar sources over the weekend, the German government’s commissioner for substance abuse, Sabine Baetzing, argued a ban was urgently needed, even if it would represent an invasion of privacy. "We have got to ask ourselves if traffic safety and health protection should not take precedence,” she said, adding “smoke fumes inside a car can be many times higher than in other enclosed spaces.”The grounds for concern are to do with the fine particulates caused by smoking. The EU mandates that when a level of 50 micrograms per cubic metre is reached on more than 34 days of the year in a city, cars can be banned from that city on air pollution grounds.This survey has revealed that levels of more than 1000 micrograms per cubic metre have been measured in a closed car with one person smoking, causing an obvious health risk to the occupants of the car, and a resultant hazard to other motorists in the vicinity. The German authorities are investigating if it would be possible to ban smoking while driving and how such a law could be enforced.Germany already bans the use of mobile telephones in cars, although the law is not rigorously policed, but it has moved slower than the rest of the European Union to ban smoking in public places. A general smoking ban in public was dismissed by Germany’s ruling coalition government late last year.

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