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No ash therefore no tray

The trend comes because smoking while driving is now considered not only a health issue, but also a dangerous driver distraction in some countries where bans are now in place.

Many car manufacturers have already converted cigarette lighters to power outlets for satellite navigation systems and mobile phone chargers, leaving smoking motorists to pay for a lighter as an optional extra.

Ashtrays are also on the way out, often appearing as cup-sized receptacles that can be removed, leaving a bottle holder in its place.

Even the new workman's ute from Holden is a smoke-free environment with neither a cigarette lighter nor ashtray.

The phasing out of cigarette lighters and ashtrays is expected to pick up pace as rules tighten around the world on smoking while driving.

Since the introduction of Queensland's smokefree workplaces in 2002, there has been a ban on smoking in work vehicles when more than one person is present.

In July, Health Minister Stephen Robertson foreshadowed a prohibition on smoking in cars carrying children during the review of tobacco legislation expected to start soon.

But Queensland is not alone in a clamp down on smoke-driving.

Earlier this month, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill to come into effect in January banning anyone smoking in a car with a person under the age of 18 present. The fine is $US200.

Cyprus and three other US states have similar bans, while several countries including Ireland and South Africa plan to introduce the smokefree cars with children reform.

South Australia implemented a ban on smoke-driving while children are present in May and since then, police have issued 29 on-the-spot fines and 11 cautions.

Tasmania will introduce the ban in January and NSW has flagged smokefree cars carrying children as the next area of reform. But the issue is not just a matter of health.

Last month, the new UK Highway Code declared offenders could be charged with driving without due care and attention and New Delhi has a total ban on smoking while driving as a road safety driver-distraction issue.

The latest UK crackdown has been reflected in a recent survey which revealed that 75 per cent of people would now buy a car without an ashtray.

The RACQ supports a ban on smoking when there are children in a car, but does not yet support a total ban while driving as a road safety issue as in the UK and New Delhi.

“The passive smoking issue is a valid concern,” said spokesman Jim Kershaw. “It would be a different matter to make a case on driver distraction. It's probably no more distracting than fiddling with the radio or other actions that are legal.

“Using hands-free mobiles while driving would probably be more distracting than lighting a cigarette.

“I think we would not single out smoking while driving as a safety issue at this stage unless we see evidence to the contrary.”

A UK insurance company survey found more than 3 million motorists have had accidents, near misses or lapses in concentration as a result of in-car smoking distractions.

It also found 80 per cent took their hands off the wheel to light up, 46 per cent had dropped a cigarette in the car and 26 per cent had taken their eyes off the road to retrieve it.

Do you agree with the phasing out of cigarette lighters in new cars?


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