UK & World News
Boris Backs Ban On Smoking With Child In Car
Boris Johnson has joined health experts and medics in urging MPs to vote in favour of banning smoking in cars carrying children, as the Children and Families Bill returns to the Commons today.
The Mayor of London appealed to party colleagues to accept that the "bossyboots brigade" he so often rails against were right to want to impose a ban because the practice was so "disgusting" and harmful to health.
The Commons is expected to give Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt the power to make it illegal despite the opposition of some MPs including members of the Cabinet.
Ministers have been granted a free vote on the measure - successfully introduced by Labour in a House of Lords amendment to the Bill.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Johnson said: "Surely to goodness - you might say - people these days are aware of the problem of passive smoking? Surely all smokers know that they shouldn't be puffing away in a car, while the pink defenceless lungs of kids are sucking in the evil vapours?
"Alas, I am afraid that people either don't know, or don't care enough."
"These kids cannot protest, and very often the smoker in the vehicle lacks the will to stub it out. This law would give that smoker that extra legal imperative to obey their conscience and do the right thing."
Rejecting critics' claims that it would divert police resources from more serious crimes, he said it would be "largely enforced by the natural social pressure of disapproval backed by law".
Prime Minister David Cameron, who has declined to be drawn on his personal view, is expected to miss the vote as he focuses on the Government's response to flooding crisis.
Mr Hunt is among his colleagues backing the move while Justice Secretary Chris Grayling is in the "no" camp of those who say it is unenforceable.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has spoken out against attempts to "sub-contract responsible parenting to the state" and pro-smoking groups have branded it an "unnecessary intrusion".
Last week hundreds of medics and health experts signed a letter in support of the ban which is backed by cancer charities and the Royal College of Physicians.
Every year 160,000 children are adversely affected by second-hand smoking, costing the NHS in England more than £23m, the RCP says.
John Britton, chair of the RCP's tobacco advisory group, said: "The evidence shows the importance of protecting children from passive smoking, and cars are still a major area of exposure."
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