Smoking in cars carrying children is one step closer to being banned

Smoking in cars that are carrying children could be a thing of the past, as MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of an amendment to ban it.

Although no details of either when the bill will be implemented or possible penalties for ignoring the law are available, if passed it would see the UK follow in the footsteps of Australia, Canada, the US and others.

Many children's health issues have been associated with exposure to secondhand smoke including lung infections, asthma, meningitis and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Before the vote, a UK study analysed children's exposure to secondhand smoke from a typical car journey.1 This tested the air quality in a car where one adult or more smoked, and used the World Health Organization's guidelines on air quality as a benchmark. The air quality while smoking in a car was found to be outside these guidelines even when the car was well ventilated. As a result, the study suggested that children were likely to suffer damaging effects from being exposed to cigarette smoke in cars on a regular basis.

The government is expected to announce further steps with this law later this year.


1. Semple S, Apsley A, Galea KS, et al. Secondhand smoke in cars: assessing children's potential exposure during typical journey conditions. Tobacco Control. Published online January 4 2012


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