Wednesday, 2 March 2011
Ihre papieren, bitte
When the Health Act was introduced in 2006, workers were banned from smoking in their company cars. Vehicles used primarily for business purposes by more than one person must be smoke-free zones. Anyone caught breaking the law faces a £50 fixed penalty fine or a possible court conviction, which carries a £200 fine. The culprits’ employers will also be informed and also be heavily fined.
Chris Kitchen, acting head of environmental services at Tendring District Council in Essex said: “Police together with council officers will be stopping lorries, vans, company cars and public transport vehicles on the highway. We have noticed that people are smoking in commercial vehicles where in fact it's banned and we will be looking for evidence that people have been smoking." He added: "We will be looking for ashtrays and whether the vehicle smells of smoke."
Ian Wilkins, environmental officer at Tendring District Council, explained that the scheme was intended to raise awareness of the law. He said: "When the new legislation came into force on July 1 2007, it became illegal to smoke in virtually all enclosed public places and public and work vehicles.
"I think it is fair to say that most people understood the rules when it came to public buildings, but there was some confusion over the rules about smoking in vehicles. We will use the month of March to carry out inspections, offer advice and generally try and make sure people are aware of and compliant with the legislation. This is primarily about raising awareness but, if we feel the case is appropriate, we will take action where contraventions are observed."
The scheme which is being carried out throughout March has been organised to coincide with National No Smoking Day which takes place on March 9.
I'm not a smoker but this sort of thing makes my blood run cold. How long before we hear those words: "Halt! Ihre papieren, bitte"?