New regulations on driving and smoking are not fully understood by the public and little effort is being made to comply with them, claims a new report.

The law, in operation since July, requires that vehicles should be smoke free at all times if they are used to transport members of the public or are used in the course of paid or voluntary work by more than one person – regardless of whether they are in the vehicle at the same time. The vehicles must also display no smoking signs.

A spokesman from GEM Motoring Assist, formerly the Guild of Experienced Motorists, said: "Employers and even voluntary organisations have a duty to ensure that anyone using a vehicle understands the regulations and that the vehicles are properly signed".

“It is the legal responsibility of anyone who drives, manages or is responsible for order and safety on vehicles to prevent people from smoking. If they do not apply this law they could be liable for a court awarded fine of up to £2500.”

Research by GEM reveals an increasing mood among the public to ban smoking when driving. It has carried out a poll on its web site to test opinions, and a considerable majority (72%) have voted to ban smoking totally when driving.

The new version of The Highway Code includes, for the first time, a warning that smoking while driving can cause a dangerous distraction.