Not content with restricting a blanket ban on smoking to public areas such as restaurants and pubs, a leading doctors’ union now wants the Government to introduce a smoking ban in privately-owned cars to protect vulnerable people from second-hand smoke.
The British Medical Association (BMA) believes that the Government should make a “bold and courageous step” by extending the current smoking laws to include cars.
The BMA claim that people are exposed to 23 times more toxins through inhaling second-hand smoke in cars than used to be found in pubs and that children and elderly people who are passengers are especially at risk.
Dr Vivienne Nathanson of the BMA states that there are 80,000 deaths in England every year caused by smoking.
She said: “The UK made a huge step forward in the fight against tobacco by banning smoking in all enclosed public places but more can still be done.
“We are calling on the UK Government to take the bold and courageous step of banning smoking in private vehicles.
“The evidence for extending the smoke-free legislation is compelling. The current UK Government prefers voluntary measures or ‘nudging’ to bring about public health change, but this stance has been shown to fail time and time again.”
Prime Minister David Cameron, an ex-smoker, is supportive of banning smoking in public spaces but claims to be “nervous about going into what people do inside a vehicle”.
He is right to nervous since pro-smoking groups are opposed to a ban in vehicles.
Simon Clarke of the smokers’ rights group Forest said: “Cars are a private space. Will it be a ban on smoking at home next?
“Very few parents smoke when children are in the car. Legislation to ban it is heavy handed and, with everything else going on in the world, an abuse of Parliamentary time.”
A private members’ bill calling for a smoking ban in vehicles when children are present is to have its second reading in Parliament on 25 November.
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