MPs last week passed a new law, due to come into force on 1 October, 2015, banning smoking in cars carrying children and young people under the age of 18 in England. The move follows a similar ban in Wales, while Scotland is also considering introducing a ban. Anyone found flouting the law in England could be fined £50.
Experts say second hand smoke is particularly harmful to children and young people as they breathe more rapidly and have less developed airways. There are more than 300,000 GP consultations and 9,500 hospital admissions every year as a result of breathing in second hand smoke.
Councillor Sandra Samuels, Wolverhampton City Council's Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: "The introduction of regulations making smoking in cars carrying people aged under 18 illegal is a significant victory in protecting children's health from second hand smoke, and I am delighted that this important law has been passed.
"The British Lung Foundation estimates that more than 430,000 children are exposed to second hand smoke in cars each week, and passive smoke puts them at risk of serious conditions including respiratory infections, meningitis and triggering asthma.
"Of course, the risk posed to children by smoking in cars is the same as it is smoking at home - and I'd urge parents who do smoke to heed the warning that the ban on smoking in cars sends out when they are thinking of lighting up in the house."
Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer, added: "Smoking just a single cigarette in a car exposes children to high levels of air pollutants and cancer causing chemicals like arsenic, formaldehyde and tar.
"Children are least equipped to speak out to protest against second hand smoke, so I welcome this legislation to end smoking in cars when they are present."
While smoking rates have declined over past decades, smoking is still the biggest cause of preventable illness and premature death in the country - accounting for almost 80,000 deaths in England a year. One in every 2 long term smokers will die prematurely from a smoking related disease unless they quit.
Public Health England is rolling out its Smokefree Homes and Cars campaign on TV, radio and online this month, highlighting that many parents are often unaware of the damage smoking in the home and car causes to children's health, and encouraging them to quit.
For help and advice to quit smoking, please contact Wolverhampton Stop Smoking Service, which offers one to one support in GP practices, pharmacies and drop in clinics, a specialist pregnancy service and home visits. For more information, please call 0800 073 4242 or 01902 444246. Alternatively visit Type=links;Linkid=5080;Title=Smokefree NHS;Target=_blank; for a range of free support and quitting advice, including the Smokefree app and Quit Kit.
- released: Monday 16 February, 2015