Welsh government targets smoking in cars when children present


The Welsh government says it will consider bringing in a ban if smoking rates do not start to fall

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A campaign to stop people smoking in cars when children are travelling has been launched by the Welsh government.

Fresh Start aims to protect youngsters from the effects of second-hand smoke in a confined space.

An outright ban will be considered depending on the success of the three-year campaign.

But Simon Clark from the lobby group Forest said that a ban would be expensive, a step too far and totally unnecessary.

Launching the campaign, chief medical officer for Wales Dr Tony Jewell said children in cars were particularly at risk from second-hand smoke.

"Exposure to these chemicals puts children at risk from a range of conditions, including sudden infant death syndrome and asthma," he said.

"There is robust evidence that the level of toxic chemicals is very high in cars, even with a window open. The Fresh Start Wales campaign aims to make people aware that smoking in cars is dangerous for their passengers, particularly children."


Accusing parents of poisoning their children might seem like an extreme measure - but there seems to be a fair deal of sympathy for this campaign amongst smokers.

Even the lobby group Forest describes smoking in a car with a child as 'inconsiderate' - but it draws the line at any suggestion of a ban.

Any legislation would bring several sticking points - not least the question of how it could be enforced.

The BMA has called for a total ban on smoking in cars, regardless of the occupant's age.

It argues older people are also at risk when inhaling second-hand smoke. But would the public be persuaded?

The Welsh government has settled on a wait and see approach in the hope that their campaign will prove to be an effective way of cutting smoking rates.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said smoking in cars "poisons" children and Wales would not shy away from further legislation.

"A ban on smoking in cars carrying children will be considered later in this five-year term of government if smoking levels do not reduce as a result of the campaign," he said.

"We have commissioned research to measure levels of smoking in cars and public attitudes towards it, which will be revisited throughout the campaign to evaluate its success."

But Mr Clark, of tobacco lobby group Forest, said: "I disagree that they're poisoning children but I support the campaign.

"I think it's important to encourage parents not to smoke in a car where small children are present out of consideration for the child if nothing else."

Mr Clark wanted an assurance from the Welsh government that a ban would not be introduced.

"We think that would be a step too far and totally unnecessary," he said.

"And I think it's outrageous at the way they're treating smokers considering there are 10m smokers throughout the United Kingdom who contribute a massive amount to tobacco taxation - over £10bn a year.

"It's a perfectly legal product and I think it's quite wrong the way smokers have been treated."


  • One in four adults (23%) in Wales smokes, with rates higher in more deprived areas.
  • 11% of 15/16 year old boys and 16% of girls smoke.
  • You Gov Survey for Ash Wales found that four in five Welsh adults strongly agreed or agreed smoking should be banned in cars carrying children younger than 18
  • Smoking in cars is banned in Mauritius whether or not children are present
  • Nine out of the 10 provinces in Canada and six states in Australia have banned smoking in cars

Source: Welsh Government

Dr Iolo Doull, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health officer for Wales, who has previously called for a total ban in cars, backed the campaign.

"Infants and children exposed to tobacco smoke are more likely to have chest infections, to have ear infections, to be admitted to hospital with wheezing or asthma, and to die of cot death," he said.

Chris Mulholland, head of the British Lung Foundation Wales, said it was vital that the option of a ban remained.

"Poll after poll shows a huge majority of the public would support a ban," she said. "Evidence from other countries shows that legislation has made a big difference in protecting children."

But a spokesman from the motoring organisation the AA questioned how any future ban would be enforced.

"I think it would be done domestically," he said.

"Once you've got a rule there it's easy for mum to tell dad to stop smoking in the car or for granny to tell granddad and so on.

"I don't think it's high on a traffic police officer's list of priorities."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    How is this in the realms of probability going to be possble, when more and more drivers are usung their telephones in their cars while driving.
    Fines are not the answer, they cannot be when illegal usage is proliferating at analarming rate and accidents statistics with usage. Little or no chance of this working, get real folks!

  • Comment number 241.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.

    Long overdue, I never take a lift in a smokers (ashtray) car, as no matter how much they promise they say they won`t smoke. Just as soon as they are on they motorway out comes the fags and you are a prisoner trapped in their lung choking muck. It should be treated as a crime, smoking in a car when a baby or a small child is trapped in the same way in their car seat. Go further ban smoking in cars.

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

    If governments hate smoking so much why don't they just ban it? Answer - they can't afford the loss of revenue. So either put up or shut up!

    Plus, there are far worse examples of parenting going on than having a fag in the car.

  • rate this

    Comment number 238.

    217.Rabid Right Wing Europhobe
    Personally, I'd be quite happy for natural selection to remove the stupid, "I know best despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary" gene from the human DNA pool but it doesn't act fast enough.

    By natural selection do you mean their own demise, or that of other people in their car due to passive smoke or other road users if they have an accident whilst smoking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    Yeah ban smoking in cars... how about ban standing at a bus stop or a busy road junction? Lots more poisons there. how about banning bus depots, and diesel engines. about banning old coal spoil heaps, and foundry waste. ban ban ban ban... wasters

  • rate this

    Comment number 236.

    I agree, In order words the country's health has improved dramatically since the birth of the NHS even though people still smoke."

    But when the NHS was founded smokers were about 50% of the population. They are now 20% and falling. In 1948 most people died of other causes before the effects of smoking killed them. Now, if you smoke, that really is much more likely to be the death of you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.


    How do you know that you genuinely enjoy smoking as opposed to think you do because it's an addiction? Is the enjoyment greater than the reduction in quality of life from rotten teeth, smelly hair and clothes, risk of erectile dysfunstion, limb amputattion etc? Would you not enjoy life better if you gave up?

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.

    I actually agree with the ban. But I doubt it will be enforced. So many selfish people still drive whilst phoning and not on handsfree.

    As with smoking, it needs a decent education campaign, over many years, to get people to change. Might be an idea to put way more layby's on A roads and motorways, too, so people could take a break from driving.

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    I don't have problems with smoking in my car, I refuse point blank to have children dictating to me. So no children in the car simple. my friends are aware that I am a smoker, I don't smoke when visiting them, in return they do not attempt to lecture me when visiting me in my own house. Time we got rid of interfering busybodies who are obviously underemployed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    Shame this even has to be considered. If we all used a bit of common sense, considered the effect of our actions on others then half the laws we moan about wouldn't exist. By the way, if smokers refrain from smoking in cars with children from now on this law will not be introduced in Wales, the choice is yours.

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    If you're going to ban by stealth, lets go the whole hog and just ban smoking and add tobacco to cannibis.
    then, we should ban alcohol followed swiftly on by fast foods and cars.
    smoking in cars with kids? we may as well add bad parenting to the list and work out how we can sterilise the whole population and reverse it for those people who can prove they can be ideal parents , what have I forgot?

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    There is only one ban that makes any sense, and that is the ban on the sale of tobacco. In order to move further towards that point, governments (of whatever political persuasion) need to start weaning the economy from its addiction to tax revenue from smokers. That, at least, would put the lie to the argument that smokers somehow perform a public service by pumping money into the Treasury.

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    180.ian crooke - "If cannabis had the same legality as tobacco what would someone who only smokes tobacco think about passively inhaling the cannabis smoke exhaled by someone else?......"

    The toxins in cannabis are just as bad for you as the toxins in tobacco......as for them getting high I guess it could happen. And yes, I used to smoke dope too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    I support this initiative totally. But it will not happen. Who is going to monitor the ban and bring charges. Every day of the week I see a works van with the driver smoking; I see drivers using mobile phones; I see drivers with no seat belts; I see drivers with one or more lights out; I see drivers eating at the wheel. etc. etc. Enough said I think.

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.


    I enjoy smoking, granted not all of the cigarettes are smoked for enjoyments sake, some are due to addiction no doubt, but most of them are for enjoyments sake, I find that there are few things in life as satisfying as taking five minutes out and having a quite smoke and and drink. There is lots of evidence that proves people will ignore laws they don't agree with - ask a pot smoker

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    A ban would be the right move. It's a matter of public liability.
    If somebody has an accident on my property as a result of my negligence, say, if I have left broken glass and a trip-wire on the garden path, then I am liable. Similarly, if a passenger in my car is exposed to carcinogens and other hazards as a result of my smoking, I should also be liable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    I am a smoker. I think things like this will die out within a generation. Smoking is becoming socially unacceptable to most people my age (I'm 30) but the generation before me smoke in front of children etc without thinking, in my experience. My friend often has to take her baby out of a room as her mother lights up without giving it a second thought. Once she done it while holding her!

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    214.George Stokes

    "Police can't control the use of mobile 'phones in cars, this will be something else they can't do."

    Actually, I did a bit of research and in 2009 (latest I could find) 126,000 in the UK were given fixed penalties for using a mobile phone while driving, 8% up on the previous year.

    It could be far more now of course.

  • rate this

    Comment number 223.

    Can we have a campaign to protect the public from social engineers and politicians with little else to do than try and meddle and micro-manage every aspect of our lives?


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