Banning smoking in cars when children are present took a significant step towards becoming a reality as the Labour Party forced, and won, a vote on the issue in the House of Lords this evening.
Alex Cunningham has kept up the pressure on the Government since beginning his fight to protect the health of the UK’s young people in 2011. And the inclusion of a Clause within the Children and Families Bill that will make it a criminal offence to smoke in a car carrying a child marks a milestone in his efforts.
Almost 500,000 children in England are being exposed to potentially toxic second-hand smoke in family cars every week, with research showing that a single cigarette can create concentrations of tobacco smoke in a car that is 23 times more toxic than in a typical house
Having tabled a Private Member’s Bill on the issue in 2011, as well as making efforts to insert New Clause 17 into the Children and Families Bill during Report Stage in the House of Commons, the positive vote by Peers following continued pressure in the House of Lords represents success at the third attempt for Stockton North’s Labour MP.
“I was absolutely delighted that the House of Lords voted to protect our children and young people by accepting an amendment to the Children and Families Bill that will make it a legal offence for drivers of private vehicles to fail to prevent smoking when a child is present.
“Once again, this is a measure that has proven itself to transcend political boundaries. Parliamentarians of all persuasions have given support at one stage or another, and 85% of North East adults would support such a ban. This is the third time efforts have been made to get the issue onto the statute books, and I hope that MPs will now get a chance to vote on the measure when the Bill comes back to the House of Commons.
“Despite Ministers trying to bury this issue, the sustained pressure is paying off. As I have argued many times before, in situations that impact directly on the health of children and young people, robust action is required to achieve real results. And I was pleased to hear confirmation that similar measures will form part of Labour’s manifesto in 2015 should this effort be thwarted at a future stage.
“It is clear that this Government prefers words to action, favouring programmes of education over actual enforcement. But with evidence showing that stopping smoking in the confines of a car can prevent damage to the health of our young people, we are one step closer to giving the authorities the necessary powers to protect against preventable harm while also educating about its dangers.”