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MPs vote to ban smoking in cars carrying children

Huge majority say children should not be exposed to cigarette smoke in cars

Louise Prime

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Members of Parliament voted by a huge majority last night in favour of banning smoking in cars carrying child passengers. The British Medical Association, whose members called more than two years ago for a total ban on smoking in vehicles, welcomed the result as “an important step forward in reducing tobacco harm” and urged the government to change the law.

The BMA has long campaigned for a ban, pointing out in its 2011 paper Smoking in vehicles (updated last November) that “Children exposed to second-hand smoke in vehicles are at greater risk of asthma and wheeze, and of initiating smoking in adolescence … smoking in vehicles is commonplace, including when children are present.”

As OnMedica reported yesterday, doctors and other health leaders last week urged MPs to vote for a ban on smoking in cars when children are present, after the Lords narrowly supported a ban. And last night in Westminster, 376 MPs voted in favour of the Labour-supported amendment to the Children and Families Bill which gives the health secretary the power to introduce such a ban in England; just 107 voted against the amendment. Professor Sheila Hollins, chair of the BMA’s Board of Science, said: “The outcome of this resounding vote is an important step forward in reducing tobacco harm by stopping children from being exposed to second-hand smoke in private vehicles.

“Children are still developing physically and, as a result, they are more susceptible to the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.”

However, the amendment does not oblige the Government to make it a criminal offence to allow smoking in a vehicle carrying children. Professor Hollins said: “Adults who smoke in the presence of children are not acting in the children’s best interest; therefore it is the government’s duty to change legislation in order to protect them.”

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