A ban on smoking in cars when children are present is a step closer after the House of Lords voted to bring in new legislation. Downing Street have stated that the Prime Minister was ready to “listen to the arguments”.
The notion of this law will be debated by the MP’s next, who will then have a free vote on the issue; this gives it a real chance of making it into legislation.
The idea for this new law has come after Labour suggested an amendment to the Children and Families Bill which would give ministers the power to bring in regulations that would make it illegal for a driver to "fail to prevent smoking in the vehicle when a child or children are present".
Regarding the Prime Minister’s opinion about smoking in cars with children, his spokesman has said: "This is an issue that is going to be discussed and debated in parliament today, and the Prime Minister's view is that he wants to listen to the arguments."
The Department of Health has stated that it does not think that passing a legislation would be the most effective way of stopping adults smoking in front of children in cars. Earl Howe, a Health Minister echoed these comments and said that it would be complicated for the police to apply the law. He preferred “behaviour change” and educating people about the dangers of second-hand smoke," adding that the government was actively spreading awareness about the issue.
Despite this the government have not yet ruled out the legislation and have said that they would consider it if the publicity awareness campaign failed to deliver the desired effect. Concluding, Howe said: "We all want to eradicate smoking in cars carrying children."
The Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham has said that Britain should follow the example that has been set by Australia, Canada and some US states in terms of their laws relating to health. Under Labour’s plans if the law is passed it would be an offence to smoke in the car with children present and failure to comply would result in a £60 fine. "When it comes to improving the health of children, we are duty bound to consider any measure that might make a difference," he declared to Sky News.
"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."
A smoking ban in 2007 had made it illegal to smoke in all enclosed spaces and workplaces.
Simon Clark, Director of a Smokers’ Rights group Forest, had said that he thinks the ban could lead towards a ban on all smoking in cars in an interview on BBC Radio Four’s Today programme.
"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," he told.
"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."
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