A ban on smoking in cars carrying children and under 18s has already been approved for England, with new legislation coming into effect on 1 October 2015. Now, the Welsh Assembly is voting in early June for similar restrictions in Wales. If passed, offenders will be subject to a £50 fine, or court appearance from the beginning of October. This will further highlight the seriousness of exposing young lungs to second-hand cigarette smoke. Scotland is considering a similar move.
Smoking is currently forbidden in both England and Wales in all work and public service vehicles, under legislation passed in 2007 that covered smoking in places of employment. The new laws affecting private cars will not affect anyone driving alone, or convertible vehicles being driven with the top down.
Mark Drayford, Health Minister for Wales has expressed his support for the proposed ban. “Children cannot escape from the toxic chemicals contained in second-hand smoke when travelling in cars. They often don’t have a choice over whether or not they travel in cars and may not feel able to ask an adult to stop smoking.”
Some pressure groups, such as the pro-smokers’ organisation, Forest, have said that the ban is an un-enforceable, unnecessary intrusion, however, it is widely believed that it will, in actuality, reduce the number of incidents when children are exposed to smoke and is an important step towards safeguarding their long-term health.
A spokesperson from the British Lung Foundation has added their support for the ban, describing the plans as, “a tremendous victory.”
Second-hand smoke can stay in the atmosphere for up to two and a half hours, even with car windows open. It contains more than 4,000 chemicals, many of which are carcinogenic, or strong factors in the development of asthma, ear problems and chest infections in children.
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