Smoking and driving faces a ban

I have never smoked but from a public relations perspective, I find it an interesting issue – with the heritage of Bernays and his 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.


  1. Jill Blake says:

    How about making the culprits pay for fumigating the smoke filled car before it goes to the auction where all overworked, massive mileaged company cars go.

  2. Not that it is safety or health related, but can you ever get rid of the smell of stale smoke. I had forgotten how bad it was as most people I know don’t smoke or have quit – but in Bulgarian restaurants and in a pub in Guildford last week, the smell on my clothes and hair really knocked me back.

  3. TIm Wakeham says:

    While at Westminster City Council I worked on communicating the new law and how it would be implemented. They decided to voluntarily adopt the framework internally from Jan 2007, to light up (sorry) any issues which might affect the wider community 6 months down the line, when it actually became law.

    The subject of pool cars was discussed and logically appears now to be included in the wider ban, though the slightly more contentious issue of “company” cars came up and whether this would constitute a private car being used for company business by the individual, or if it remained a company car during it’s contract and as such the property of the organisation and subject to the same law as the pool cars.

    Unfortunately I don’t know how this was resolved or if there is a precedent for this very specific area.

    What was a intriguing even for a non smoker, and those with a mild interest in legal specifics, was a diagram indicating the difference between an acceptable and unacceptable space within which to have your cigarette:

  4. Tim – thanks. That is an interesting diagram – although I do find it slightly disturbing the level of time, effort and detail that is going into “controlling” behaviour that is not illegal (as the government doesn’t have the bottle to ban smoking). There are health (and in the case of driving simultaneously) considerations for others – but probably no more in the case of smoking than many other behaviours, including driving itself. Although I’ve never smoked and dislike the behaviour, I am not sure about the way people are being coerced into stopping – and the niggling feeling that there will be other behavioural change by legislation and bully-boy tactics to follow.

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