World No Tobacco Day was celebrated in May. The global event, promoted by the World Health Organisation, aims to highlight the health risks associated with smoking, and aims to offer assistance to those wishing to quit.
However, there is not only a direct risk to health caused by smoking, in the car, there is an additional danger, that of distractions and, although we have mentioned before that there is only a hypothetical risk of being fined for being distracted by smoking, the actual risk of something going wrong is far greater.
Smoking in cars is not currently banned in Spain, however, that said, it would appear that more than half of the Spanish population would support such a ban.
The information has come about following a survey conducted recently by the Spanish Society of Family and Community Medicine, which was made public during this year´s campaign.
The survey shows that 51.6% of Spaniards would favour a ban in private vehicles, at least in the presence of minors, following the lead of countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Australia and South Africa, whereas another 38% believe that the ban on tobacco should be advanced even further.
During driving, smoking becomes a dangerous distraction. It has been estimated that lighting a cigarette causes us to withdraw our attention from the road for 4 seconds, which means that, driving on a motorway at 120 kilometres per hour, we have taken our eyes off the road for at least 132 meters.
Lighting a cigarette in the vehicle can cause the driver to drop a spark, potentially falling on the driver or the seats, causing alarm and a reaction that could turn your attention away from driving, and subsequently cause a more serious incident.
In addition, 3% of forest fires – 21,000 in the last ten years – have their ultimate origin in cigarette butts thrown or dumped from one of the millions of vehicles on the roads at this time of year. Despite declining numbers of smokers and public awareness of fires, it remains one of the gravest dangers to forests, fields and wildlife. To the extent that this behaviour (throwing objects from cars in motion, including cigarette butts) is punished with a fine of 200 euro and the withdrawal of 4 points of driving license.