We have had a few enquiries this week about where we stand on vaping in vehicles, both by drivers and by passengers.

It wasn’t all that long ago that smoking in cars when there is a child present became illegal and I think most people instinctively understand the reasons behind that, the risks of passive smoking being really well understood. E-cigarettes are however a very different proposition and there seems to be some room for debate. Certainly it is not currently illegal to use an e-cigarette while driving, or in an enclosed space, even where there are children present.

Just because something is legal however doesn’t necessarily make it completely ok. From our perspective there are a number of concerns that we would have about vaping in cars. Firstly we don’t think that drivers should do anything which is a potential distraction from driving unless it is completely necessary. While e-cigarettes are simple to use and most regular users wouldn’t describe it as being distracting Rule 149 of the Highway Code prohibits the use of a hand-held mobile phone or similar device, and places an absolute prohibition on the use of a hand held microphone whilst driving. We don’t think that it is too big a stretch to think of some e-cigarettes as being potentially as distracting as devices of that nature, particularly if a battery is running low, or there is some issue with the fluids.

The next issue is the emissions of e-cigarettes. Whilst the consensus seems to be that there is not a risk to health from passive exposure to e-cigarette vapour however there must be some risk of passive exposure to nicotine within the vapour which non users may not wish to experience. Whilst the vapour may not be bad for your health it certainly can have an impact on the comfort of those around who may not enjoy the strong scents, or may be worried about the health risks of exposure. There is also an issue that e-cigarettes can emit quite significant amounts of dense vapour which can impair visibility for drivers and over time can leave something of a residue on windscreens.

For those reasons we ask that drivers who wish to use an e-cigarette refrain from doing so in an enclosed car with passengers present, particularly with children present in the vehicle and advise them that in our view it is best avoided whilst driving altogether.

However, we also recognise that volunteer drivers are capable of making their own decisions, if an adult passenger wishes to vape in their car and a driver wishes to allow it is totally their decision provided that it doesn't make driving unsafe. That said, for the reasons we’ve set out above, we also recognise that drivers may well not wish for their passengers to vape in the car and that too is their decision and is one we would support. Drivers whose passengers wish to vape can fairly easily accommodate a quick stop during longer journeys to allow their passengers to get their nicotine hit.