UK & World News

  • 10 February 2014, 21:50

MPs Vote To Ban Smoking In Cars With Children

Smoking in cars when children are present could soon be illegal after MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of the policy.

CoalitionMPs, who were given a free vote, joined forces with Labour to approve a ban by 376 votes to 107 - a majority of 269.

It means Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt now has the power to create a new law.

MPs also voted to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to under 18s, to outlaw so-called proxy buying of cigarettes by adults on behalf of minors, and to allow the Government to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products.

David Cameron missed Monday night's vote while visiting flooded areas in the South West, but the Prime Minister supported the proposed law against smoking while children are in the car.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling was one Cabinet minister in the no camp, believing any law would be unenforceable. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has also spoken out against attempts to "sub-contract responsible parenting to the state".

Medical charities were "delighted" with the result.

Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: "Having campaigned on this issue for many years, we're absolutely delighted that MPs have backed the ban on smoking in cars carrying children.

"This could prove a great leap forward for the health of our nation's children.

"The introduction of a law that would help prevent hundreds of thousands of children from being exposed to second-hand smoke in the car is now within reach."

The British Lung Foundation estimates that in England more than 430,000 children aged 11 to 15 are exposed to second-hand smoke in cars every week.

But Simon Clark, director of the smokers' group Forest, said the policy was not needed or practical.

He said: "Legislation will have very little impact because so few adults still smoke in cars carrying children. Those that do will carry on because it will be very difficult to enforce.

"If you believed everything you heard in the House about the threat to children's health it's a miracle anyone who was a child in the Fifties and Sixties, when a large majority of adults smoked, is still alive.

"Government has banned smoking in public places. Now they're going to ban it in a private place. The home will be next."

A ban is already in place in parts of the world including some states in America, Australia, Canada and a few countries in Europe.

A YouGov poll in 2011 found 78% of adults in Great Britain would back any law.

:: Watch Sky News live on television, on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.