East Suffolk Council’s licensing committee agreed a change to its policy on Monday night, which means that neither drivers or passengers can use vaping pens or e-cigarettes while in a cab.
According to the council’s report, a driver caught vaping or allowing a passenger to will now incur three penalty points on their professional licence.
The new policy will begin with immediate effect.
A spokesman from East Suffolk Council said: “Smoking or vaping while driving can distract a driver.
“Plumes of smoke from smoking or vaping in a vehicle can also reduce the visibility for a driver, as well as being unpleasant for a passenger.
“Smoking in a taxi is a criminal offence because a taxi is an enclosed public place.
“The act of vaping in a taxi is not a criminal offence but it is contrary to East Suffolk Council’s policy and conditions, and three penalty points will now be imposed on any driver in contravention of this condition.
“In circumstances where a driver accumulates 12 or more penalty points, they will be referred to an East Suffolk Council licensing sub-committee where a panel of three councillors will determine whether the driver is a ‘fit and proper person’ to remain licensed with the authority.
“The sub-committee has the power to suspend or revoke the driver’s professional licence.”
Currently, smoking in a vehicle is not illegal, except in instances where there are children present or vehicles used for commercial purposes such as works vans or cabs.
The council’s current policy does ban the use of e-cigarettes and vaping pens, but does not have any form of penalty in place.
Alongside the vaping penalties, the council will also now require drivers to sign up to an enhanced DBS check.
It effectively mandates that drivers sign up to an online subscription service offered by the Disclosure and Barring Service which keeps DBS records up-to-date, rather than having to complete fresh forms each time it needs updating.
The council said that these records would be checked at least every three years to ensure drivers remained suitable.
By Jason Noble, Local Democracy Reporting Service