PLANS to ban smoking in cars carrying children, which have been backed by Wigan health chiefs, moved a step closer after Scottish health chiefs bid to make it illegal.
Following proposals put forward earlier this year by England’s public health minister, Anna Soubry, the Scottish member of parliament, Jim Huhne, wants to introduce a bill to make it law.
If the move is pushed forward to make smoking in cars with children in them illegal, Wigan’s health experts have said they will support the bid.
Dr Kate Ardern, executive director of Public Health for the Borough of Wigan, said: “Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, 60 of which we know cause cancer.
“Because cars are small, enclosed spaces these chemicals are concentrated and are even more dangerous, especially for any children who are on-board. Studies show that levels of second hand smoke in cars are dangerous and can be up to 11 times the levels you would find in a smoky room.
“Children suffering the effects of second hand smoke are admitted to hospital every year.
“The fact that children’s lungs are smaller and less developed means they are more vulnerable to the effects of second hand smoke and so it is vital that we do everything we can to improve awareness and reduce the risks.
“Opening a window won’t protect children, smoke free cars will.”
Wigan Council chiefs are also behind such a move.
Councillor Keith Cunliffe, Chair of Wigan’s Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “The chemicals inhaled from cigarette smoke can have major health implications, and children travelling in a smoky confined space are particularly vulnerable to their effects.
“We fully support any change in the law which will reduce the risk of health problems caused by children inhaling second hand smoke on car journeys.”
Several health organisations also back the ban, but a smokers’ campaign group said the law would be unenforceable.
Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, said: “Most smokers are sensible enough to know that lighting up in a car with children is inconsiderate at best and research suggests that only a tiny minority still do it.
“Education has to be better than yet another law that would be very difficult to enforce.”