Cityvisitor blog

Call to ban smoking in cars

England’s public health minister has said that smoking should be banned in cars carrying children.

Anna Soubry has said that her own view is that it is justified on “child welfare” grounds.

A number of health groups have asked for a ban, but it has so far been resisted by the government.

The prime minister has said that he supports the ban of smoking in clubs and pubs, but is “more nervous” about legislating on what happens in cars.

Ms Soubry, commenting on the subject at the Local Government Association’s annual public health conference, said: “I would ban smoking in cars where children are present.

“I would do that for the protection of children.  I believe in protecting children.  I would see it as a child welfare issue.

“I think it is something we should at least consider as government.”

A former smoke, Ms Soubry made it clear that she was expressing her own personal views to the audience.

The government is not currently considering a ban, although it has done marketing campaigns to trying to encourage people not to smoke while with their children at home or in cars.

A Department of Health survey last year discovered that over one in five smokers smoked in front of their children in cars or in the home.

Children are especially vulnerable to second-hand smoke because of their increased breathing rate, less developed lungs, airways and immune system.

Children exposed to smoke are at increased risk of respiratory illnesses, meningitis, asthma and even cot death.

Research reveals that 300,000 children in this country visit their GP every year because of second-hand smoke.  Visits to hospital total 9,500.

“The minister can count on our support and the majority of the public. A ban on smoking in cars is the right thing to do,” said the director of policy and research at the campaign group Action on Smoking and Health, Martin Dockrell.

“We need to think about whether this should just be aimed at children. Older adults are vulnerable too.”

Other health groups have also called for a ban on smoking in cars, including the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the British Medical Association.

Bans already exist in other parts of the world.  States in Canada, the US and Australia as well as the whole of South Africa have introduced legislation.

Personally I don’t think it is ever acceptable to smoke close to a child, or any non-smoker for that matter.  It’s frightening to know that just over a fifth of adults smoke and just more than a fifth of these adults admit to smoking in front of their children.  As an adult you have a choice whether you want to pollute your body or not; your children don’t.

Another fact to bear in mind is that smoking in a car produces a higher concentration of toxins than in a bar: this is put at 11 times higher in some research.

I have never smoked and find it an abhorrent habit, but the thought of children being affected by it is more disturbing and I fully support Ms Soubry’s views on the subject.


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