Alex Cunningham MP, Member of Parliament for Stockton North, today brought his campaign to ban smoking in cars when a child is present back to the House of Commons, where his Bill to the practice was read this afternoon. The Smoking in Private Vehicles Bill has already been passed in the House of Lords, and now only needs to pass the House of Commons to be on its way to becoming law.
The Bill has wide support in the country, with 80% of the public, 86% of children, and even 65% of smokers agreeing that a ban is the right course. It is also supported by the British Lung Foundation, Ash, Smoke Free North East, the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, amongst others.
It also has cross-party political support, as shown by a letter in this morning’s Daily Telegraph in support of the Bill signed by Lords Ribeiro of the Conservative Party (a former President of the Royal College of Surgeons and the sponsor of the Bill in the House of Lords), the Labour Peer Lord Faulkner, and Lord Rennard (the former Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrat Party).
Research shows that children are more susceptible to tobacco smoke as they breathe more quickly into smaller, less developed lungs. While many people think that opening a window means that the car becomes a smoke-free zone, research shows that actually a child in the back seat will be exposed to high concentrations of tobacco smoke.
Unfortunately, because of a busy day in Parliament, including a Statement by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on the tragic death of a prison officer, Alex’s Bill wasn’t allotted time for a full debate and vote, however he was pleased to be able to read his opening speech and name a day for the resumption of the debate.
Alex MP said:
“I am very pleased to have been able to present my Bill to the House of Commons for a second time. It is disappointing that there wasn’t time for a full debate and a vote, but we will continue to campaign to protect children from passive smoke, and I hope to bring this Bill to Parliament again in the New Year.
“I was also encouraged that the Health Minister, in the Commons for the debate, spoke to me afterwards and said that he too was sympathetic to the Bill. We now need to keep the debate going and get that protection for our children in place.”