UK & World News

  • 29 January 2014, 22:20

Peers Back Ban On Smoking With Child In Car

Smoking in cars carrying children could be banned after the House of Lords voted in favour of proposed new laws.

Peers defeated the Government in the House of Lords by a vote of 222 to 197.

Labour wants to see the creation of a specific offence for those caught smoking in cars carrying children, claiming the move will help to save lives.

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

Speaking ahead of the House of Lords vote, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said it was time for Britain to follow suit.

"When it comes to improving the health of children, we are duty bound to consider any measure that might make a difference," he said.

"Adults are free to make their own choices but that often does not apply to children and that's why society has an obligation to protect them from preventable harm.

"Evidence from other countries shows that stopping smoking in the confined space of a car carrying children can prevent damage to their health and has strong public support."

Pro-smoking groups have argued that a ban would be disproportionate. They also insist most adult smokers choose not to smoke when they are in a car with children.

Simon Clark, director of Forest, said: "I think this legislation is very heavy-handed, totally unnecessary and according to surveys 84% of adults wouldn't dream of lighting a cigarette in a car, in a small enclosed space with a child present.

"So adults already know how to behave, they don't need the state interfering in their lives like this. If there are still some people who smoke in a car with children, then let's educate them, but let's not legislate.

"It's almost going to be impossible to enforce anyway and the danger is that the police will have to ban smoking in all cars.

"We could have a situation were a lone driver, in his own car will be committing an offence by lighting a cigarette and what's the next logical step after that? Are we going to ban smoking in the home as well if children are present?"

According to supporters of the ban there is overwhelming public support.

Labour cites a YouGov poll from 2011 that found 78% of adults in Great Britain agreeing that smoking should be banned in cars carrying children younger than 18 years of age, while 44% agreed that smoking should be banned in all cars.

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