Smoking in cars with children will be banned in Wales

The Welsh government will launch a consultation on the landmark ruling

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Smoking in cars when children are present will be banned in Wales, the first minister has announced.

Carwyn Jones and Health Minister Mark Drakeford have said a consultation on the landmark ruling will be launched.

They say it aims to protect youngsters from the effects of second-hand smoke in a confined space.

Wales became the first country in the UK to consider tackling the issue of smoking in cars when children are present.

Those who flout a ban could face fines and points on their licences.

Any new regulations would apply solely to Wales, but the Welsh government says it is in touch with the Department of Health in England to "co-ordinate approaches" on the issue.

Welsh government-backed research by Cardiff University has suggested one in 10 children in Wales continue to be exposed to smoke in family cars.

'Public support'

Dr Graham Moore, who led the study, welcomed the ban.

"There is evidence to show high levels of public support for a ban on smoking in cars carrying children," he said.

"Our evidence points to a need for continued action to make smoking in front of children less socially acceptable, whether in the car or at home."

The first minister said: "While I welcome the fact the number of children being exposed to smoking in cars has declined, a sizeable minority of young people are still being exposed and adults continue to smoke in their cars when children are present."

Mr Drakeford added: "Although the research findings show that progress has been made in reducing children's exposure to second-hand smoke in cars, we now believe the introduction of regulations to prohibit smoking in private vehicles carrying under-18s is needed as the final piece in the jigsaw to eliminate the harm and end persistent inequalities in exposure.

"We will now consult on these proposals and I urge people to have their say."

It follows a vote earlier this year in Westminster on the issue which was passed by 376 votes to 107. It gave ministers in England and Wales the power to bring in a ban - but does not compel them to do so.

In England, the Department of Health has launched a six-week consultation after the UK government said it wanted a ban before the next general election, which is due in 2015.

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