SMOKING in cars carrying children as passengers will be banned under new laws being introduced by the Government.
Health Minister James Reilly is taking up the proposal as part of a wider effort to discourage people from smoking altogether.
However, the plans are at a very early stage and it is not yet known how the new law will be policed. There is no definite timescale for its introduction either.
A government spokesman also said last night he did not expect it would be a penalty points offence to be caught smoking in a car with a child present.
The initial idea came from Independent senator John Crown, who tabled a motion in the Seanad with fellow Independent Jillian van Turnhout and Fianna Fail's Mark Daly.
The senators initially planned that the ban would be enforced by gardai through fines that start low but rise for multiple offences, but the final system will be decided by the Government.
At its weekly meeting yesterday, the Cabinet agreed amendments to a private members' motion on the issue in the Seanad.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny also confirmed in the Dail that the Cabinet had given the green light for the new laws to be drawn up.
Dr Reilly's spokesman said Prof Crown should be credited for the idea, and said that the minister was more than happy to take it up and bring it into law.
"In its present form, the bill is deficient, so there are amendments that have to be made," the spokesman said.
"It is not about restricting the rights of smokers, but it is about protecting the rights of children."
Dr Reilly has also said he was examining banning smoking in parks and on beaches in a bid to discourage children from taking up the habit.