UK lawmakers have approved a ban on smoking in cars with children. They are now discussing the option to ban smoking in cars completely, even when someone is on their own. The decision to pass the law has sparked debate between smokers and non-smokers.
From October 1, 2015, drivers in England will no longer be allowed to smoke in cars if they have children with them. Members of Parliament voted yesterday, with 342 supporting the decision and only 74 against the law. Chief Medical Officer Profressor Dame Sally Davies says that the decision is a “significant victory” to protect children from second-hand smoke.
Second-hand smoke is extremely dangerous, according to experts. Parents are not aware that 80 percent of second-hand smoke is odourless and invisible, and is putting their children at risk. Professor Kevin Fenton from Public Health England would like to see smoking banned from cars and homes with children, and said that the recent decision is a positive step towards that.
The last few years have seen a number of changes to smoking laws around the world. Many countries now operate a ban on lighting up while inside public buildings. Pubs and clubs around the United Kingdom and some parts of mainland Europe now have terraces and gardens as the only places for people to smoke. Recently, UK lawmakers decided that tobacco products needed to be placed behind cabinets so the packaging did not encourage people to buy the products.
Now the UK government has decided to ban smoking in cars with children. The law will only be passed in England at this time. Scotland may follow in the future, and are currently debating the issues. Wales already has the ban.
The decision has sparked debate. While some people see it as a positive decision for children, there is the question on how this is going to be policed. The idea of banning smoking in a person’s home is an even bigger concern for how this could be policed. It is already difficult to catch everyone going against laws in the privacy of their own home and cars, such as driving while using the phone.
Others believe that the lawmakers are now going too far by banning smoking like this. Drivers are in their own vehicles and should be allowed to make their own decisions. They do not have a problem with encouraging them not to smoke around children, but illegalizing it is a major step. To ban using tobacco products in a person’s home is an even bigger stretch, and there are arguments that it could affect a person’s human rights.
According to reports from the British Lung Foundation, 430,000 children are exposed to second-hand smoke each week in a family car. It increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome and asthma, along with other health problems. Banning the use of the products will hopefully help to keep that down. Those caught will be fined £50 ($76). Despite the law being popular with lawmakers in the UK, there are many against the idea of banning smoking in cars for various reasons.
By Alexandria Ingham