I have never smoked but from a public relations perspective, I find it an interesting issue – with the heritage of Bernays and his Torches for Freedom campaign and other PR activities to encourage smoking, to the more modern anti-smoking public information campaigns – and now enforcement through bans.
In terms of smoking and driving, there are two motivations being cited for bans – road safety and health. Jalopnik reports that smoking and driving (as well as driving and phoning) are being banned in New Delhi to improve road safety. Smoking is recognised as a potential road safety risk in the latest Highway Code, but the UK government does not plan to ban it on safety grounds. This is the topic of an epetition on the 10 Downing Street site – which has attracted 2,000 signatories.
Apparently, Germany is considering such a ban citing road safety and health concerns. Australia is similarly looking at this from the passive smoking perspective. Some organisations already ban smoking in cars parked on their premises. As of 26 March in Scotland new no-smoking laws came into effect:
Vehicles used for business purposes will also be affected by the new law. These include light and heavy goods vehicles, and public transport such as taxis, buses, trains and ferries. All cars, however, will be exempt.
It is not quite clear whether company cars will be affected by the change in the law in the UK in July – but following the lead of BT, companies will probably decide to enforce a ban on the grounds of dangers of passive smoking for any passengers on company business.
Some of the debate on the issue amongst HR professionals is interesting regarding the finer detail – which undoubtedly PR will then need to communicate successfully with employees.