A ban on smoking in cars when children are present moved within touching distance today as regulations outlawing the practice were laid before Parliament, marking further progress in Alex Cunningham’s long-running campaign to protect the health of the UK’s children and young people.
While the regulations, which will prohibit smoking in cars containing children under the age of 18, still need to be approved by a vote in the House of Commons, this is expected to take place before the General Election in 2015 allowing the new law to come into force in October next year.
The British Lung Foundation estimates that nearly half a million children are exposed to second-hand smoke in the family car every week, while a poll conducted in March by YouGov for ASH found that 77 per cent of adults, including almost two-thirds of smokers, agreed that smoking should be prohibited in cars that are carrying children younger than 18 years of age.
“I am overjoyed that children and young people in the UK have been given an early Christmas present with the promise of a vote on regulations that will protect their health by making it illegal to smoke in vehicles carrying under-18s.
“I am optimistic that the vote necessary to approve the regulations will take place before the end of this Parliament and that these new regulations will come into force before the end of 2015. By reducing exposure to harmful second-hand smoke and the damage this can do to young people, this could be the gift that keeps on giving.
“I hope that the Government will now go further and double the joy they are bringing this New Year by ensuring that regulations requiring plain packaging for tobacco products is introduced before the end of this Parliament.
“I am in no doubt that, were tobacco only being discovered in the modern day, it would not be granted a licence for sale. The fact remains that tobacco is the only consumer product that, when used as instructed, kills one in two of its long-term users, and action must be taken to reflect this.”