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BMA conference backs doctors call for ban on smoking in cars

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Doctors at the BMA’s annual conference are urging UK governments to introduce legislation to ban smoking while driving a motor vehicle.

They also passed a motion demanding that tobacco companies be forced to publish all payments to politicians and political organisations.

And during a debate on alcohol policy they once again called on the UK governments to introduce a realistic minimum price for alcohol.

Speaking in favour of the motion on smoking in vehicles, Northern Ireland Junior Doctors Committee Chairman Dr David Farren said: “I really like this motion, as it would improve transparency and perhaps highlight the political agenda of tobacco companies”. And Dr Charles Saunders, joint deputy chairman of the BMA’s Scottish Council speaking after the debate said:

“Tobacco smoke is a potent cocktail of over 4,000 toxins, including 50 known to cause cancer. Smoking in the confined space of a car is therefore a toxic threat to health and people sharing a car with a smoker will be exposed to in-car particle concentrations 27 times higher than in a smokers home and 20 times higher than the levels found in a smoky pub before the ban on smoking in public places was introduced. Rolling down the window does not eliminate this risk.

“Children exposed to smoking in cars will be at risk of the harmful effects of second hand smoke including persistent wheeze and respiratory disorders.

He said that the British Lung Foundation estimate that more than half of 8 to 15 year olds have been exposed to smoking in cars and 86% of children want people to stop smoking when they are in the car.

“There is an increasing awareness amongst the general population of the risks of exposure to second hand smoke and banning smoking in cars is another way in which we can protect non-smokers from the risk of harm from second hand smoke.

On the motion calling for a realistic minimum price for alcohol Dr Sue Robertson, a renal physician and member of the BMA’s Scottish Council, said: “I am delighted that doctors across the UK supported the motion as it sends a clear message to politicians at Westminster and in the devolved nations. A new bill for minimum pricing in Scotland is expected in the autumn and I hope this, as part of a wider alcohol strategy, will lead the rest of the UK in taking the much needed steps to tackle our country’s culture of excessive drinking.”

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