Scotland

BMA calls for complete ban on smoking in vehicles

Smoker Image copyright PA
Image caption The BMA says all smoking in cars should be banned

The Scottish government should ban smoking in vehicles completely, according to the British Medical Association (BMA).

The association has welcomed a new law which now makes it illegal to smoke in a car when children are present.

But Dr Peter Bennie, BMA chairman for Scotland, said ministers should go even further.

Legislation aimed at protecting children from second-hand smoke was unanimously passed at Holyrood in 2015.

Smokers' rights campaigners have dismissed the change as pointless "virtue signalling".

Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said the "poisonous chemicals in second-hand smoke" were particularly dangerous to children.

'Important first step'

People caught breaking the new law could face a fine of up to £1,000.

Dr Bennie said the ban on smoking in cars with children was an "important first step".

"Children are still developing physically and, as a result, are more susceptible to the harmful effects of second-hand smoke," he said.

"When someone smokes in a vehicle it creates a concentrated source of exposure to second-hand smoke.

"An outright ban on smoking in vehicles would ensure that adults, and particularly vulnerable adults, who may be unable to object to others smoking while they are present, are also protected. This would also be easier to enforce."

Image copyright PA
Image caption People caught smoking in cars with children could be fined up to £1,000

The law came about via a members' bill by then Lib Dem MSP Jim Hume in the previous session of parliament, and came into force at midnight.

Mr Hume, whose mother died of cancer that he believes was caused by second-hand smoke, introduced the Smoking Prohibition (Children in Motor Vehicles) Bill and won unanimous backing from MSPs.

A similar law came into force in England and Wales in 2015, although there have been difficulties over enforcing the ban.

Responding to the call by the BMA for a complete ban on smoking in vehicles, the director of pro-smoking pressure group Forest, Simon Clark, condemned the idea as "needlessly illiberal".

He added: "If a driver is on his own there's no reason at all to ban smoking in cars.

"It's a private space and should be treated like someone's home."

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