PEOPLE who smoke in cars with a child passenger are likely to face fines of around €80, it has emerged.
However, if they resist paying the fine and are brought to court they face having to pay out up to €1,000 under new legislation due to come into force early next year.
The legislation will outlaw smoking in cars where one or more of the passengers is under the age of 18 years, Minister for Children James Reilly told the Dail.
It is intended that the new offence will be policed by gardai, who can issue a fine if the driver or one of the passengers in the car is smoking with a child in the front or back seat.
A spokesman for Dr Reilly said that the fine will be set out in the regulations governing how the law is enforced. If not paid, the case can be brought to court, with a potential penalty of up to €1,000.
The regular fine is expected to be around €80 and will not be seen as a means of raising revenue.
The Protection of Children's Health (Tobacco Smoke in Mechanically Propelled Vehicles Bill), which originated in the Seanad, was brought before the Dail yesterday and is expected to be made law by early 2015.
Dr Reilly said he supported the original Private Member's Bill, developed and introduced by Senators John Crown, Jillian Van Turnhout and Mark Daly in June 2012.
Defending the measure, which is set to lead to more accusations of "nanny state" interference, he said environmental tobacco smoke is a carcinogen and contains the same cancer-causing substances that are inhaled by the smoker.
"There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke. In children, exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke is a recognised risk factor for the development of asthmatic symptoms and increased risk of other illnesses such as pneumonia, bronchitis and middle ear infections.
"Exposure to tobacco smoke is particularly harmful in enclosed spaces, such as cars. Children's exposure to second-hand smoke in cars is involuntary. They are unable to remove themselves from risk if people smoke around them."
The offence also applies where the smoker is themselves under 18 years of age and the driver will be guilty of an offence even if the smoker is another adult passenger.
There are also defences for the driver if they can prove they were unable to stop the other person from smoking because he or she did not wish to take any action which might compromise the safety of the passengers. They can also argue they made all reasonable efforts to stop the smoking.
Gardai will be allowed to ask the driver to stop the car, and demand the name and address of any person who may be committing an offence.