The Member of Parliament for Stockton North, Alex Cunningham, is hoping to hear the Government announce plans to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes and a ban on smoking in cars with children present in the Queen’s speech tomorrow but isn’t holding his breath.
There has been no indication at all from the pre-speech announcements that such legislation will be in the list.
“I only hope the Government aren’t going to give in to the tobacco lobby and dump the proposals to bring in plain/standard packaging for cigarettes. All the indications so far are that they have done so but I hope to be surprised,” said Alex. “It would also be good to see them adopt the provisions of my Bill to ban smoking in cars with children present but that too looks unlikely.”
Meanwhile, the fight to ban smoking in a car when a child is present was aired by Alex’s fellow Labour MPs Steve Reed, Sharon Hodgson and Andy Sawford, who signed his new clause to be included in the Children and Families Bill which would introduce a ban.
The Minister, though warm towards the idea, agreed to look at the idea but the ‘new clause’ was withdrawn for the time being, though Alex and his colleagues will re-table it during the next stage of the Bill.
Smoking in cars when a child is present is proven to make the impacted child more likely to suffer from asthma and other respiratory problems later in life, and research has shown that the toxicity limit is breached, even when a window is open.
“I am pleased that the ban was debated in Committee Stage. Though the clause was withdrawn, I am still hopeful that it will be included in the final Bill. There is a growing consensus within the Labour Party that a ban is the right course of action and Ministers seem to accept the idea in principle. The health benefits of doing this are well known, and the idea that this somehow infringes on individual liberty is easily dismissed.
“I know that I have the support of at least three Ministers in the Department for Health, but now is the time for the Government to put their money where their mouth is, and throw their support behind this provision. Every day hundreds of children are unnecessarily subjected to damaging tobacco smoke. The Government have the power to stop that happening. It is time that they made that happen.”