MP calls for smoke ban in cars carrying children


The smoking ban plan was debated in the Commons

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A Labour MP has called for a ban on adults smoking in cars where children are present, saying it would bring "tremendous" health benefits.

Alex Cunningham said children were particularly vulnerable to the effects of passive smoking and could not "remove" themselves from cars where cigarette smoke was circulating.

Parents simply exercising restraint was "not good enough", he told MPs.

But one Tory MP called the plan "over the top" and "ludicrous".

Mr Cunningham said the "science was clear" about the dangers of passive smoking and that societal attitudes had changed on the issue in the past decade - reflected by the ban on smoking in public transport, planes and taxis.

Research suggested more than 300,000 children visited doctors every year with health problems associated with passive smoke, he said, while there were 20,000 new cases of asthma and wheezing among children every year.

Start Quote

This proposal is excessive, intrusive and insulting to British parents who smoke”

End Quote Philip Davies Conservative MP

The Labour MP acknowledged many people felt the car was a "private space" but he believed it was children's space as well and "some people were invading it with dangerous smoke".

He told MPs: "Adults can make up their mind about the dangers of smoking. It is children we need to protect," he added.

"The fact that children can be exposed to such an environment in cars is reason enough to bring in a ban on smoking in private vehicles where they are present.

"I can't see how it would be any real hardship to anyone to stop smoking in private vehicles and the benefits will be tremendous."


Mr Cunningham said a ban had been introduced in several US states, including California, as well as in parts of Canada and Australia and had growing support in the UK among health campaigners and the public.

But Tory MP Philip Davies - who campaigns against political correctness - said it should be up to parents to decide whether they smoked in cars and there was a "complete lack of evidence" about the beneficial impact of the proposal.

"This proposal is excessive, intrusive and insulting to British parents who smoke," Mr Davies said.

"The suggestion of banning smoking in private vehicles with a minor present is yet another unwarranted intrusion on individual freedom. The government should have no role at all in regulating the private lives of adults who make decisions as adults."

MPs voted to allow Mr Cunningham's ten-minute rule bill to be considered at a future date by 78 to 66.

However, as a private member's bill, the likelihood of it becoming law is slight.

The Department of Health has previously said parents should keep cars smoke free "voluntarily".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    In think if the Medical profession and the government are seriously concerned about the undisputed dangers of smoking tobacco then they should ban the sale of tobacco smoking products in the Uk. I for one am tired of this half hearted approach to tobacco and it's dangers to health. It seems clear that it has only survived in the Uk because of Tax revenue an this surely can not be justified.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    I don't think it should necessarily be illegal, as it would be ridiculously hard to police. However, how parents can possibly justify smoking whilst driving, when they have children in the car I do not know. It's selfish and disgusting; if you care for your children you surely would not want to cause them harm. Maybe an advertising campaign would be more effective.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    96. Sam sorry I hadn't read 17557199 and your synopsis was misleading. I apologise. If most people truely believe smoking causes harm however then people who take these risks will likely not bring their children up in the best health anyway. No causality however so a ban is not warranted. Isn't asthma and the like an autoimmune issue? Although aggravated by particles when it does exist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    A campaign has been started on the Digital Democracy for a ban on smoking in cars with children. The site will enable propagation of a cascade of support. Please support it on:

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    My 17 yr old son smoked while driving my younger son,12 & a mate to a football match about 40 miles away & didn't mind.

    But, other situations when talking about kids being confined to smoke -i.e armistice day services at the cenataph & open air carol services at xmas like my 12 yr old was trying to sing with smoke billowing from my 17 yr old & others. That was more difficult.

    Cant poilce it


Comments 5 of 112


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