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April 2nd, 2010:

Ban smoking in cars to save children, say doctors

child-in-smoke-filled-carLast upated: March 25, 2010

Source: The Mail Online

Smoking should be banned in all cars to save children from the health dangers caused by passive inhalation, says a report from the Royal College of Physicians.

Doctors are calling for urgent action after figures revealed passive smoking triggers 22,000 cases of asthma and wheezing in children every year.

Around 9,500 hospital admissions among children are linked to the effects of secondhand smoke inside and outside the family home, says the report, which analysed existing research.

Forty babies die from sudden infant death syndrome every year caused by passive smoking – one in five of all such deaths.

At least two million children are exposed to secondhand smoke in the home along with ‘avoidable’ health risks, says the report.

Professor John Britton, chairman of the Royal College’s tobacco advisory group, said legislation to ban smoking in the home would be unenforceable.

But society’s views about the ‘ acceptability’ of smoking must be changed and the easiest way to do this is a blanket ban in cars and vans, he said.

This would be simpler to police than the current situation which expects enforcement officers to differentiate between business vehicles, where smoking is banned, and those owned privately.

Professor Britton said: ‘We would recommend a ban on smoking in all vehicles.’

In addition the ban on smoking in enclosed spaces should be extended to parks, playgrounds and other areas where children congregate, he went on.

Richard Ashcroft, a professor of bioethics at Queen Mary, University of London – who contributed to the report – said even parked drivers who never have child passengers should get out of their cars before lighting up.

This would not be a ‘significant reduction’ in their liberties, he argued.

However, Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ lobby group Forest, said: ‘We wouldn’t encourage people to smoke around children but adults should be allowed to use their common sense.

‘These proposals go way beyond what is acceptable in a free society.’

Professor Terence Stephenson, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said it had already demanded a ban on smoking in cars with children travelling in them.

A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘By increasing the level of awareness of the harmfulness of secondhand smoke, we will encourage people to voluntarily make their homes and cars smoke free.”

Written by Jenny Hope

Doctors urge full car smoking ban

harbutt_smokingLast updated: March 24, 2010

Source: BBC News

Smoking should be banned in all cars as well as in public places where young people congregate, doctors are urging.

The Royal College of Physicians wants England’s imminent review of anti-smoking laws to consider such measures to protect the young.

It says passive smoking results in 300,000 extra child visits to GPs in the UK every year for problems such as asthma and bacterial meningitis.

But driving and smoking lobby groups say cars are a “private space”.


A number of medical bodies have supported a ban on smoking in cars transporting children, but the RCP goes a significant step further, urging a blanket ban on anyone lighting up in a vehicle – regardless of whether children or indeed any other passengers are inside.

This report isn’t just about protecting children from passive smoking, it’s about taking smoking completely out of children’s lives
Professor John Britton RCP

It is calling for a two-pronged approach which would see children protected from second-hand smoke and shielded from the sight of adults smoking – whether in the playground or on the TV.

The RCP’s report – Passive Smoking and Children – is being released ahead of the three-year review of the ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces in England. Similar bans have been introduced across the UK, with Scotland having led the way.

Drawing on a series of studies, the report suggests that in the UK, tens of thousands of youngsters are falling ill as a result of exposure to cigarette smoke.

Exclusion zones

These calculations include 20,000 chest infections, some 22,000 new cases of asthma and wheezing, as well as 200 cases of bacterial meningitis and 40 cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – or cot death.

Each year it claims these account for more than 300,000 visits to a GP – some of which end up in hospital – costing the NHS £23.3m.
The car is a private space and it crosses a line to start interfering in it, however much one disapproves of smoking
Nigel Humphries Association of British Drivers

The report does concede that these figures are only estimates, but says it is confident they give an “indication” of the number of children who become ill.

The doctors acknowledge that a ban on smoking in the home, however desirable it believes this to be, would be neither politically or practically possible, but sees the car as an intervention in the private sphere which the public would tolerate.

But it argues that the only way to make it practically enforceable would be to introduce it as a blanket ban on all private vehicles – regardless of their passengers, as exemptions would prove too complex.

In addition, it wants to see smoking banned in places frequented by children, such as parks and outdoor swimming pools – and exclusion zones outside school gates.

Campaigns to explain to parents the importance of a smoke-free home, price hikes and generic cigarette packaging are also among the recommendations issued.

“This report isn’t just about protecting children from passive smoking, it’s about taking smoking completely out of children’s lives,” says Professor John Britton, head of the college’s Tobacco Advisory Group and lead author of the report.

Parental responsibility

A Department of Health spokesman stressed the role that anti-smoking legislation had played in curbing exposure, but added: “The government is looking at ways to go further to reduce the 9,500 children admitted to hospital every year as a direct result of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke.

“Parents have a responsibility to protect their children by stopping smoking around them in enclosed spaces like their cars and in their homes.”

The Welsh Assembly Government said it had commissioned a tobacco control group to advise specifically on how to protect children, while a Scottish Government spokeswoman said it was conscious smoking in cars was a source of exposure that needed highlighting but had no plans for a ban. Northern Ireland is to conduct its own review.

The driving and smoking lobby groups expressed their anger at the recommendations, arguing that adults did not needs laws regulating every aspect of their behaviour.

Simon Clark, of Forest, which campaigns for smokers’ rights, questioned the figures used in the report, noting that cases of asthma had been rising as the number of smokers had fallen.

“It’s unacceptable to single out smokers and imply that they are solely responsible for the cost of asthma treatments, hospital admissions and asthma drugs for children up to the age of 16.

“We want smokers to be considerate towards those around them, especially children, but changing people’s behaviour should be achieved by education and encouragement not by legislation and enforcement.”

Nigel Humphries, spokesman for the Association of British Drivers, said the car should be seen as an extension of the home and treated as such.

“The car is a private space and it crosses a line to start interfering in it, however much one disapproves of smoking.”

Written by Clare Murphy

Letters to the Editor: Officials must crack down on smokers

police-crackdown-415x275Last updated: March 21, 2010

Source: South China Morning Post

It is always a pleasure to visit Hong Kong and I felt things would be even better thanks to the smoking ban in pubs and public open spaces. However, I see the law being flouted and it is getting worse. In November there were some incidents, in January a few more, and this month I saw people smoking in so many establishments.

The government seems to be willing to let Hong Kong return to the bad old days. What a shame it will not enforce the law.

There are now several establishments I will not go to because the smoking problem is worse than ever, so at least I’m saving money.

I hope for Hong Kong’s sake the government wakes up before it is too late and the bad old days are back forever.

John Preston, Hawksburn, Victoria, Australia

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