In Car Smoking Ban?
Car smoking ban expected to be passed
MPs have voted in favour of the ban to make smoking in cars with children as passengers a criminal offence. This ruling empowers but does not compel ministers to bring in a ban in England though it seems likely to happen.
With the vote passing by 376 votes to 107, the ban is looking very likely with a Downing Street source telling the BBC that the ban will happen. England is not the only country to have to make this decision as the vote also brought the Welsh government power to bring the ban to Wales. Welsh ministers must now make their own decision on whether they want to make smoking in cars carrying children illegal in Wales.
Why the need for a smoking ban in cars?
Many believe that smoking in cars is not harmful, especially if the window is open but smoke can stay in the air for up to two and a half hours even with a window open. Second-hand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, some of which are known to cause cancer. Exposure has also been linked to chest infections, asthma, ear problems and cot death in children.
Research indicates that 300,000 children in the UK visit a GP each year because of the effects of second-hand smoke, with 9,500 going to hospital. Smoking a a car creates a higher concentration of toxins than in a bar, some research puts it at 11 times higher.
Comments on the car smoking ban
Liberal Democrat Health Minister, Norman Lamb, commented that the majority of 269 was, “so decisive that I think there's a very clear mandate now to get on and legislate, but we will have that discussion. You have to ask yourself the question, 'How important is the liberty that we're infringing here? The liberty to smoke in your car in front of a child doesn't seem to me that important and protecting a child's health does seem to me to be incredibly important.”
Shadow Public Health Minister, Luciana Berger, commented, “This is a great victory for child health, which will benefit hundreds of thousands of young people across our country. It is a matter of child protection, not adult choice. The will of Parliament has been clearly expressed today and this must be respected. Ministers now have a duty to bring forward regulations so that we can make this measure a reality and put protections for children in place as soon as possible.”
Regarding the positive voting for the ban, Penny Woods, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation commented, “Having campaigned on this issue for many years, we're absolutely delighted that MPs have backed the ban on smoking in cars carrying children. This could prove a great leap forward for the health of our nation's children.”
Simon Clark, Director of smoker's lobby group Forest, added his view saying that smoking in cars with children was “inconsiderate” but there was “a line the state shouldn't cross when it comes to dictating how people behave in private places. Legislation will have very little impact because so few adults still smoke in cars carrying children. Those that do will carry on because it will be very difficult to enforce. Government has banned smoking in public places. Now they're going to ban it in a private place. The home will be next.”
Bans on smoking in cars when children are present already exist in some US states including California, parts of Canada and Australia. If the car smoking ban is passed it will see those breaking it in England being punished with a £60 fine or points on their licence.