The controversial exemption to the smoking in cars ban

The Government is trying to ban smoking in cars with kids present - but a controversial exemption which allows people to smoke in cars that are being used as a home is raising serious questions.

The legislation was introduced into the House last week. It states that no one is allowed to smoke in a car if a person under the age of 18 is inside.

However, the Government has made a couple of exceptions. One is that people can smoke in a car where children are present if it's not moving and is in use as a dwelling.

"Some of these places are actually used as motor homes," Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa says.

Newshub asked Salesa whether it meant homeless families living in their cars could smoke in them with children present. She deferred to the public consultation process.

"I'm pretty sure that the public will have a lot to say to ensure that the legislation is fit for purpose."

National's Health Spokesperson Michael Woodhouse disagrees.

"There's no logical reason that I can see except the fact that they've given up on trying to get people out of cars as dwellings, and they're not serious about being smokefree and looking after the children."

There's also an exemption if the person actually smoking the cigarette is the child. There is no legal age for smoking - there is only a legal age of 18 for buying cigarettes.

This legislation states as long as the under-18-year-old is the only one under that age in the car - smoke away.

"It's actually not exposing other kids to smoking," Salesa says.

If the goal is to protect children from inhaling secondhand smoke in cars, it makes very little sense to allow smoking in cars where they could be living - perhaps why the Minister struggled to defend the exemption.