Smoking Ban in Cars With Children
In 2007, it was made illegal to talk on your mobile phone when driving because of the dangers and risks of an accident. Now, though a different form of danger, Parliament has voted on whether or not there should be a ban on smoking in a car when a child is present, in England and Wales.
After an overwhelming majority of 269 votes (376 to 107), MPs voted in favour of the Labour legislation banning smoking in cars when children are travelling in them. Although the vote doesn’t actually mean that the ban has been put in place, it does mean that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt now has the power to make it so.
The Prime Minister David Cameron gave his verbal support for the proposed law but was unable to join in with the vote as he was visiting areas of the South West who are suffering through flooding at the moment. The Deputy PM, Nick Clegg, on the other hand, opposed the move, along with Home Secretary Theresa May, splitting the government right down the middle.
A spokesman from the Department of Health has said that the next step is determining how to put such a ban into effect. “Second-hand smoke is harmful to children, and it is right that this has been debated in Parliament,” he said.
Respiratory health experts also back this argument in the British Medical Journal, saying that children should be protected from the unnecessary dangers of “high amounts of tobacco smokes”.
On the opposing side, Forest (a smokers’ group) Director Simon Clark, said that although it is “inconsiderate” to expose children to tobacco smoke, it would be too hard to enforce such a ban, “because so few adults still smoke in cars carrying children”. In his opinion, and in those of other people opposing the bill, a ban would be “a line the state shouldn’t cross when it comes to dictating how people behave in private places” and that even with a ban in place, people would still carry on. What they aren’t considering is that some people will be less likely to smoke in their cars simply because it is against the law.
But another way of looking at any potential ban is not only limiting the number of places where a child can breathe in second-hand smoke when they are in public, but also limiting the number of areas where they see adults smoking.
A similar car-smoking ban is already in place in countries like Australia, South Africa, and some European countries. And now, Scotland has said that a bill will be presented to the Scottish Parliament some time later this year, and Northern Ireland has also agreed to having a consultation on the issue.
On Monday night, MPs also voted to ban selling E-cigs to those under 18 and making it illegal for an adult to buy any tobacco products for minors (which was previously just frowned upon but not illegal).