Smoking Behind The Wheel 'As Distracting As Mobiles'

British motorists demand a total ban on smoking while driving

New research out today reveals that 70% of Brits think smoking at the
wheel is so dangerous it should be banned in all cars, not just
company fleets, when the smoking ban comes into force on 1st July 2007.

The research, commissioned by, proves that smoking
is as dangerously distracting as using mobile phones and eating
behind the wheel.

Almost a third (30%) of those surveyed, equivalent to 10 million*
drivers, admit to having driven carelessly when lighting and stubbing
out cigarettes, flicking ash and, most worryingly, when butts blow
back into the car after drivers attempt to throw them out the window.

Over half (54%) of drivers claim that smoking at the wheel is as
dangerous as using a mobile phone while driving and so should incur
the same penalty points and £60 fine.

Burning a hole in resale value

Not only is smoking behind the wheel dangerous, smokers are also set to lose much more than the cost of a twenty pack when it’s time to sell their car. One in two buyers refuse point blank to buy a car from a smoker because of the horrible smell, stained interiors and potential damage from fag burns.

Of those that would consider purchasing a car previously owned by a
smoker, 55% would expect discounts of more than £500 off the sale
price. Every other (48%) driver would refuse to travel in a car with
a smoker.

To mask the smell of smoke when they come to sell their car, almost
half (48%) of drivers would drive for miles with their windows rolled
down to rid the car of the noxious nicotine smell. A quarter (25%) of
drivers would douse the car in heavy perfume.

Commenting on the research, Emma Parfitt of, says: “Let’s face it, no one wants to drive around in an ashtray estate!
Not only do drivers who smoke at the wheel risk causing accidents on
the road but they also stand to lose hundreds off the resale price of
their cars.

“While there are various ways that drivers can ‘mask’ the smell of
smoke, it’s up to savvy buyers to inspect a car thoroughly and take
it for a test drive to ensure that it’s not been damaged by cigarette
smoking. If you’re looking online, the more photographs to inspect,
the better and don’t be afraid to ask the seller whether they are a

Smoke and mirrors…

Despite a high-profile awareness campaign, it appears the public are still hugely confused about what the smoking ban covers when it comes to cars and driving.

While smoking in company cars will be illegal, almost two thirds
(60%) of drivers wrongly think that the ban also covers privately
owned cars. The confusion appears to be down to lack of information,
with two thirds of the UK’s 1.3 million[1] drivers of company cars
yet to receive any advice from their employer about how the smoking
ban will impact them.

With just a month to go until the ban comes into effect, 10%* of
company car drivers think smoking at the wheel will only be
considered illegal if they’ve got a passenger in the car with them,
which is not the case under the current stipulations.

A canny, but unknowing, 4% of drivers thought that it would be ok to
smoke in the company car if they got a letter of dispensation from
their boss!

Mike Brewer, car buying expert and presenter of ITV’s Pulling Power
and Discovery’s Wheeler Dealers, offers some smart selling tips to
drivers who smoke:

1. It’s amazing what you can find under the kitchen sink that’ll
spruce up your smelly motor. Kitchen surface cleaner is fantastic for
getting nicotine stains off plastics and a few grains of soap-powder
on a damp rag can clean up a carpet burn like a professional clean

2. Never be afraid to use water on the inside of a car. Domestic
carpet cleaners can make a great job of washing seats and carpets;
remember to leave a small gap in the windows overnight for the inside
to air

3. Wet-wipes are fantastic for getting nicotine stains off dashboards
and door-cards

4. Soak the ashtray overnight in soapy water with a small dash of
white vinegar, rinse off and it’ll look like new

5. Car spares supermarkets sell a whole range of products that’ll get
the inside smelling nice. Odour canisters really work, make sure you
have the air-conditioning or fans on full blast before you set them
off, and they will also clean out the ventilation system

31 May 2007 Staff

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