RAC Cars News


Call To Ban Smoking In Cars When Children Are Present

By raccars Published

Prime Minister David Cameron has apparently agreed to consider calls from junior health minister, Anna Soubry, requesting Britain's smoking ban be extended to drivers with children in their cars. She is backed by Labour MPs, Ian Mearns and Alex Cunningham.

Smoking in cars is already banned in certain areas internationally, including some parts of the United States, Canada, South Africa and Australia. Britain currently bans smoking in public places but Anna Soubry and other MPs are calling on the Prime Minister to consider extending that policy. Their argument is that research indicates smoking in a confined space such as a car releases a level of pollutants, three times that of the World Health Organisation's recommended indoor air quality.

The risk remains even in a car where windows are open and air conditioning is used and the British Lung Foundation is concerned that the dangers to children of being exposed to the second-hand smoke, include respiratory issues such as asthma, sudden infant death syndrome, pneumonia, cancer and various other illnesses. Statistics indicate that up to 300,000 children visit their doctors every year in the UK due to complications from the inhalation of cigarette smoke. Immature lungs and immune systems are believed to suffer damage from smoke more easily than those of adults.

The Prime Minister has also agreed to consider banning brand advertising on cigarette packets, as Australia has done, but has previously been thought to be resistant to legislate on behaviour in private cars. However, the latest calls to put the ban in place when children are present are stressing that this is a child welfare issue. While there have been numerous public campaigns to reduce smoking around children, apparently 20% of smokers still light up at home or in the car, even when their children are there.

In 2007, a year after a law was passed banning smoking in pubs, restaurants and other public spaces, that law was extended to cars used for work, such as lorries and fleet cars. The House of Lords has in principle approved plans of £60 fines for those who smoke in cars, or to send them on smoke awareness courses, but, as yet, has stopped short of implementing a ban. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the British Medical Association are hoping growing public support will encourage the government to take initial steps towards banning smoking in cars, by starting with vehicles where children are present.

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