December 13, 2010 - Dame (female equivalent of Sir) Judi Dench joined calls last night, December 11th for a ban on smoking in cars, citing the dangers to the health of youngsters. "Children are still being exposed to passive smoke, which is extremely harmful to developing lungs," said the actress.
Dame Judi, whose husband Michael Williams died of lung cancer in 2001, is vice president of the British Lung Foundation, which is calling for a ban. She added: "I am happy to offer my support ... I encourage anyone who wants the Government to make children's lung health a priority to sign up to the petition."
Pressure is mounting on the Government to extend the smoking ban to cars. Such a move would prevent some of the 22,000 new cases each year of asthma caused by passive smoking, the charity claims. Research published in The Lancet last month showed 40 percent of children were exposed to passive smoke each year, accounting for 165,000 deaths worldwide. (Passive smoking kills over 600,000 a year worldwide—WHO report..)
Supporting information: Every parent wants their children to lead healthy and happy lives. There's an abundance of evidence that children are more susceptible to the negative effects of second-hand smoke (ETS, environmental tobacco smoke, involuntary smoking, sidestream smoke, passive smoking).
As pointed out by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Australia in a February 2009 paper the evidence of second-hand smoke harm to children in enclose spaces is extensive and irrefutable. A 2004 survey of over 1300 Australians in 800 households showed over 90 percent (including 73 percent of smokers) support banning smoking in cars carrying children. A Harvard School of Public Health report indicated that secondhand smoke in cars can be up to 10 times more of a health risk than secondhand smoke in a home.
Vehicles have been found to be the most dangerous space for second-hand smoke levels. Kids exposed to smoke are at higher risk since they breathe in more air by weight than adults. Both the respiratory rate and heart rate are higher in children below the age of 13 than in adults. The younger the child, the greater the potential for exposure. Since the lungs of children are still developing, exposure to second-hand smoke can lead to ear infections, asthma, bronchopneumonia and other illnesses.
Northern Ireland - 9 of 10 households would welcome a ban on smoking in cars with children present..
Comments from prominent physicians: Just about every physician in the United Kingdom insists that smoking should be banned in cars when a child is present.
Wales - Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Jewell we must protect children from second-hand smoke, especially in cars..;
Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners (GPs), has has stated, parents that smoke in front of their children at home at in cars are "committing a form of child abuse." Professor Field, represents 42,000 GPs across the United Kingdom (UK). (United Kingdom - head GP physician calls smoking in front of children "child abuse"..);
Twenty of Britain’s most senior doctors call today for a ban on smoking in cars as part of a sweeping expansion of laws to protect children against the effects of inhaling smoke. (Senior British Doctors demand banning smoking in vehicles when children are present...)
Comment from Philip Morris: David Sutton, a spokesman for Philip Morris USA said the company believes the public "should be guided by the conclusions of public health officials regarding the health effects of secondhand smoke" and "particular care should be exercised where children are concerned."
Dame Judi is one of 12,000 people to have signed the petition calling for a ban on smoking in cars carrying children. The charity's aim is to collect 50,000 signatures. Deborah Arnott, the chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, called on the Govenment to continue campaigns discouraging parents from smoking in front of their children. She said: "While we can't pass legislation to prohibit smoking in the home, smoking in cars can and should be prohibited by law."
Simon Clark, the director of the smokers' group Forest, conceded: "It's reasonable to encourage people not to light up in a small confined space if children are present," but he dismissed calls for a ban as "unnecessarily heavy-handed". He added: "It's a small step to far more illiberal measures like banning smoking in all private vehicles or, worse, banning smoking in the home. Enough is enough."
A ban cannot happen quickly enough for Lynda Mitchell. The 53-year-old, from Bristol, has never smoked but is dying of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. "I found being exposed to passive smoke in the car the worst because there was no escape. I want parents to know that what happened to me could happen to their children if they continue to smoke near them." (Woman exposed to secondhand smoke as a child dying of COPD..)
Smoking in vehicles carrying children is illegal in parts of Australia, Canada, the United States (including California), as well as Cyprus. Mauritius is the only country to have banned smoking in cars outright.
Reference: Call to ban smoking in cars with child passengers Dame Judi Dench leads fight for government action after research shows 40 percent of youngsters are exposed to smoke by Jonathan Owen, Independent.co.uk, 12/12/2010.
(Great Britain, British, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, Isles)