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March, 2013:

Smoking ban in public places to be extended to cars carrying children under plan being considered by David Cameron

  • PM reveals idea is part of plan to improve public health
  • Health minister Anna Soubry
  • Confined space means the fumes other passengers breathe in can be 11 times more concentrated
  • Around 300,000 children in the UK visit the GP each year due to second-hand smoke

By Matt Chorley and Tamara Cohen

PUBLISHED:15:48 GMT, 27 February 2013| UPDATED:01:38 GMT, 28 February 2013

David Cameron told MPs the government is considering a ban on smoking in cars, expanding the ban in public places and insisting on plain cigarette packs

The Prime Minister is considering a ban on smoking in cars when children are present.

David Cameron said there had been a ‘real health advance’ with restrictions on smoking in public places and those wanting to go further had a ‘good point’.

He said other options included mandatory plain packaging, recently introduced in Australia.

The intervention comes 24 hours after health minister Anna Soubry backed the idea of a ban in cars.

She said lighting up on the road was a ‘child welfare issue’ and called on the Government to consider making it illegal.

At Prime Minister’s Questions Mr Cameron was urged by Labour’s Ian Mearns to go ‘a significant step further and introduce a ban on smoking when children are present in vehicles’.

Mr Cameron replied: ‘We should look carefully at what the you and others have said.

‘We are looking across the piece at all the issues, including whether we should follow the Australians with the ban on packaging and what more we can to do to restrict smoking in public places.

‘There has been a real health advance from some of the measures that have been taken.

‘We must consider each one and work out whether there is a real public health benefit, but you make a good point.’

Health groups have called for a cigarette ban in cars for years as the confined space means the toxic fumes other passengers breathe in are up to 11 times more concentrated.

Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, backed the PM: ‘The case for a ban on smoking in cars is now unarguable.

‘Since the BLF began this campaign in 2010, we’ve had overwhelming support from the public, from politicians – and now from the Government’s own health minister.

‘Unfortunately, since then, children’s exposure to second-hand smoke has resulted in 800,000 primary care consultations, 440,000 new episodes of disease and 25,000 hospital admissions.’

Yesterday Miss Soubry, a junior minister for public health, became the first frontbencher to suggest it, although she stressed this was her own opinion not Government policy.

‘I would ban smoking in cars where children are present’, she told the Local Government Association’s annual public health conference yesterday.

‘I would do that for the protection of children. I believe in protecting children. I would see it as a child welfare issue. I think it is something we should at least consider as a government.


The minister would need to convince David Cameron who said he backed the ban on smoking in public places (posed by models)

Miss Soubry, Tory MP for Broxtowe in Nottinghamshire has courted controversy for her outspoken views on people’s lifestyles.

Last month she said children from poor backgrounds were more likely to be obese due to an ‘abundance of bad food’.

However research from a US university published shortly afterwards suggested in fact middle class children were more likely to be fat.

She has also described the current laws on assisted dying as ‘appalling’.

A survey by the Department of Health last year found that more than one in five smokers lit up in front of their children in the home or in the car.

Around 300,000 children in the UK visit the GP each year due to second-hand smoke, with 9,500 visiting hospital.

It has been against the law to smoke in vehicles solely used for work, such as pool cars or lorries, since July 2007, a year after smoking in pubs, clubs and restaurants was banned.

While the government are not currently considering a ban, they have run marketing campaigns encouraging people not to smoke in front of their children at home or in the car.

Anna Soubry is the first frontbencher to suggest the proposal

Anna Soubry is the first frontbencher to suggest the proposal

The anti-smoking charity Ash said there is ‘growing public support for a ban on smoking in cars altogether.’ Martin Dockrell, its policy advisor said:

‘The minister can count on our support and the majority of the public. A ban on smoking in cars is the right thing to do. We need to think about whether this should just be aimed at children. Older adults are vulnerable too.’

South Africa has banned smoking in cars as have some parts of Canada, the US and Australia. The British Medical Association and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health also back a ban.

Second hand smoke is particularly damaging to babies and children as their smaller lungs will breathe in relatively larger doses of smoke than adults, and their immune systems are still developing.

It is associated with asthma, ear infections, pneumonia and even cot death. Research has found children who breathe in smoke are more likely to get cancer in later life.

Last year the House of Lords approved plans to ban smoking in cars, by handing offenders a £60 fine or forcing them to attend a smoke awareness course.

But they acknowledged ministers prefered education to try and convince parents to change their behaviour. David Cameron suggested it would curtail personal freedoms, and said parliament needed to have a ‘serious think’ before taking such a step.

Labour MP Alex Cunningham introduced legislation urging a ban in the Commons last year but it faced significant opposition from MPs of all parties

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Future Fund gives tobacco the flick

Judith Ireland
Published: March 1, 2013 – 3:00AM

THE Future Fund will drop tobacco producers from its investment portfolio.

Chairman of the fund’s board, David Gonski, said on Thursday that primary tobacco producers would be excluded after a review of investments by the board’s governance committee.

”The board noted tobacco’s very particular characteristics, including its damaging health effects, addictive properties and that there is no safe level of consumption,” he said in a statement.

”In doing so the board also considered its investment policies and approach to environmental, social and governance issues.”

Tobacco investments – which include companies such as British American Tobacco, Philip Morris International and Japan Tobacco – accounted for 0.3 per cent, or $222 million, of the value of the multibillion-dollar Future Fund as at December 31.

It follows a 2011 decision to stop investing in landmines and cluster munitions, although the fund continues to invest in nuclear weapons.

Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek welcomed the fund’s decision on tobacco, saying it was ”great news”.

Last year, the Gillard government won a High Court battle to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes.

Greens senator Richard Di Natale, who campaigned for the fund to drop its tobacco investments, said the decision demonstrated why it was important to have other voices in the Parliament.

”This is a win for public health and I hope that it is an inspiring example to all other investment funds,” he said.

The Future Fund was established in 2006 to provide for unfunded Commonwealth superannuation liabilities for public servants and defence personnel.

The separate nation building funds – set up in 2008 to support infrastructure, health and education – do not hold any securities issued by tobacco companies, but the same restriction will apply.

The National Heart Foundation also welcomed the decision. The foundation’s tobacco control spokesman, Maurice Swanson, said: ”We now urge the federal government, as well as all state and territory governments, to introduce firm policy to ensure that no taxpayer money is invested in tobacco companies moving forward.”


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