Posted by: Sheila Duffy ASHS | July 4, 2011

Doctors call for ban on smoking while driving

Last week the British Medical Association at its annual conference called for an overall ban on smoking while driving. They also passed a motion demanding that tobacco companies be required to publish all payments to politicians and political organisations. Setting aside the interesting question of tobacco companies seeking to purchase influence, there is growing concern over tobacco smoke exposure in cars. The British Lung Foundation is calling for a ban on smoking in cars with children as part of their Children’s Charter, a call supported by the Royal College of Physicians, and the Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Tony Jewel. MPs recently backed a ten minute rule bill introduced by Alex Cunningham MP for legislation to ban smoking in private vehicles with children present. So where are we in Scotland?

British Lung Foundation poster

ASH Scotland’s polling suggests that a majority of adults – 88% in our recent YouGov survey – agree that second-hand smoke is a risk to children’s health. Levels of tobacco smoke in cars are very concentrated, and normal air conditioning and even opening windows don’t solve the problem. There is clear evidence of the health harms caused to adults and children from breathing tobacco smoke. ASH Scotland’s Beyond Smoke-free document published last year called for a debate over whether there should be legislation on smoking in cars but beyond that we have called for a widespread effort to raise awareness of the toxic nature of tobacco smoke.

The tobacco smoke in cars is certainly concentrated, but tobacco smoke exposure in the home is a huge concern and likely to be a greater source of exposure for children. This is not an area for legislation, but we need a broader public awareness and understanding of the toxic nature of tobacco smoke, and a better communication to parents and carers of what does and doesn’t work to reduce the risks, especially to children.

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