Smokers don’t know extent of damage done

Paul Baylis and son Tyler
Paul Baylis and son Tyler

WIGANERS have supported a ban on smoking in cars carrying children to protect them from second-hand smoke.

The support comes as a historic Parliamentary vote took place this week which means that from October 2015, anyone lighting up in a car with a child under 18 present, will be breaking the law and could be fined. The final vote was 342 for and 74 against.

Second-hand (or passive) smoke from cigarettes is dangerous and can be responsible for a range of health problems including bronchitis, asthma and glue ear, and is especially dangerous to children.

A snapshot street survey commissioned by Manchester-based Tobacco Free Futures showed that residents in Wigan underestimated the dangers of second-hand smoke including:

100 per cent underestimating the number of chemicals in smoke (approx. 4,500 chemicals)

92 per cent underestimating how long second-hand smoke lingers for in an enclosed space (six hours)

78 per cent underestimating how much of second-hand smoke is invisible (80 per cent)

Of the 50 Wigan residents surveyed, 100 per cent agreed that smoking in cars with children present should be banned. In the North West a YouGov poll reported 79 per cent agreed with the measure.

Just under a third of Wigan residents (30 per cent) were aware that a law change was coming.

Dad Paul Baylis, of Kitt Green, said: “I don’t smoke and have never smoked. And I wouldn’t want my son Tyler subjected to second-hand smoke, in such a small confined space such as cars.

“When I found out about the damage of second-hand smoke in cars, I was very surprised, it’s unbelievable.

“I didn’t know about the new law against smoking in cars with children in. I will be really pleased if it comes into force.”

To raise awareness of the dangers of second-hand smoke in Wigan and Greater Manchester, Tobacco Free Futures along with Wigan Council is launching an online video this week including stars from Peep Show and Hollyoaks.

The video, produced jointly by Tobacco Free Futures and the British Lung Foundation (BLF) was originally launched as part of a wider campaign in 2013 calling for legislation to make all cars carrying children smokefree, but has been updated to help residents understand the dangers of smoky cars.

The video will coincide with the national Public Health England Smokefree Homes and Cars campaign, also launching this week.

Councillor Paul Prescott, joint-chairman of the Wigan and Leigh Tobacco Control Alliance (TCA), said: “Cigarette smoke contains around 4,500 chemicals, 60 of which we know cause cancer. Children suffering the effects of secondhand smoke are admitted to Wigan hospitals every year with complications such as bronchitis, asthma and reduced lung function.

“We know that second-hand smoke is particularly dangerous to young people within the enclosed confines of a car, even when the window is open or the air conditioning is on. We support smoke-free cars and anything that will protect children from the dangers of secondhand smoke.”

Andrea Crossfield, chief executive of Tobacco Free Futures which led the campaign, said: “We have campaigned for smokefree cars for five years, and we hope the change in the law along with the extra information and support available will lead to healthier choices by people across Greater Manchester to keep their cars smokefree.

“Smoky cars, packed full of toxic tobacco chemicals, are especially deadly to children because they have smaller lungs, faster breathing and less developed immune systems.

“Second-hand smoke in cars is dangerous and can be up to 11 times the levels you would find in a smoky room. Our advice is to keep your family safe by keeping your car smokefree.”

Watch the video here: http://youtu.be/mZ9JwtobQXM

If you would like help to quit smoking, call Wigan stop smoking service for free support on 01942 481712 or visit www.bridgewater.nhs.uk