Senior British Doctors demand banning smoking in vehicles when children are present..

March 24, 2010 - 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. Writing in a letter to The Times, the doctors argue for more anti-smoking legislation to address the serious health problems caused by passive smoking (second hand smoke, SHS, sidestream smoke, environmental tobacco smoke, ETS, involuntary smoking).

The signatories, including 13 presidents of medical royal colleges, urge the Government to bring in laws prohibiting all smoking in vehicles and in public places visited by young people such as parks and playgrounds.

The letter recommends a comprehensive strategy to cut adult smoking and children’s smoke exposure outside and inside the home. About two million children are exposed to cigarette smoke at home, with a child twice as likely to take up the habit if a close family member smokes.

The doctors say that the national strategy must include tobacco price rises, media campaigns, more effective health warnings and better provision of smoking cessation services.

A report today by the Royal College of Physicians warns of the toll on health and the NHS caused by passive smoking. It concludes that more than 300,000 GP (general practitioners) appointments and 9,500 hospital admissions a year are caused by the effects of smoke on children, costing the NHS about £23 million (34,328,825.41 USD). Paediatric health problems attributable to second-hand smoke include 20,000 cases of lower respiratory tract infection, 120,000 cases of middle-ear disease and 200 cases of bacterial meningitis, it estimates. About 40 sudden infant deaths are also caused by passive smoking annually.

The doctors writing in The Times point to the report’s evidence of passive smoking “as a major cause of death and disease in children [which can] be avoided entirely”.
They argue: “Smoke-free legislation needs to be extended much more widely, to include public places visited by children and young people, and including prohibition of all smoking in cars and other vehicles. As doctors we call on the Government to take the necessary action to protect our children’s future.”

The report’s authors, the Tobacco Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians, concluded that laws banning smoking in enclosed public places, introduced in Scotland in 2006 and the rest of the UK in 2007, had been highly effective. But there were “still gaps that needed to be closed”.

The change in the law was supposed to cover vehicles used for work but it was rarely enforced, the group said. A total ban would address the problem, and ensure all children were protected. However, it remains unclear how rigorously police officers would enforce any change to criminalise all motorists and passengers who smoke.

John Britton, the report’s lead author, said that new measures could include banning parents from smoking at school gates, but added that it would be difficult to legislate for situations such as family parties in private gardens. “This report isn’t just about protecting children from passive smoking, it’s about taking smoking completely out of children’s lives. Adults need to think about who’s seeing them smoke.”

Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer, said that the report was very valuable and would be considered in the Department of Health review of the legislation in England this year.

ASH calls for a debate in England on banning smoking in all cars with kids present.., October 8, 2008.

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.

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.

References: Leading doctors call for ban on smoking in cars, Sam Lister, Health Editor,, 3/24/2010; Ban smoking in all vehicles, doctors demand - Listen, to audio presentations.. by Clare Murphy Health reporter, BBC News, 3/24/2010 -

A few related news briefs:
England - decline in kids secondhand smoke exposure - we can do better..;
New Study - children are especially vulnerable to thirdhand smoke..;
Victoria, Australia - ban from smoking in cars when children under 18 are present comes into force January 1, 2010..;
United Kingdom - aggressive anti-smoking campaign to protect children..;
United Kingdom - public smoking ban does not lead to more smoking at home..;
Queensland, Australia - January 1, 2010 start of law banning smoking in cars carrying children..;
Finland may ban smoking in cars carrying children..;
Children - exposed to cigarette smoke in cars have greater chance of respiratory distress..;
Israel - may initiate a bill to bar smoking in vehicles with kids.. Do it for YURI..;
More evidence - vehicles most dangerous space for second-hand smoke inhalation..;
New South Wales politician smoking comment totally inaccurate..;
World Asthma Awareness Day..;
Further evidence - STOP smoking in the presence of your children..;
Ireland - ban smoking in cars when kids are present..;
Ontario law banning smoking in cars with children takes effect ..;
Maine - illegal to smoke in cars while children present..;
Ban on smoking in cars when children are present..;



June 15, 2010 at 6:50 AM

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