Road safety charity DriveSafe is calling on MPs to reduce serious health risks to young people by voting to ban smoking in cars carrying children.
The issue will be put to a vote within two weeks after Ministers tabled an action plan following the House of Lords’ backing to Labour Party proposals for a ban.
The amendment to the Children and Families Bill would make it a criminal offence to smoke in cars where children are present.
Birmingham-based DriveSafe believes that only a change in the law will be sufficient to protect children from smoking-related diseases from cancer to asthma and emphysema.
DriveSafe Founder Fay Goodman said: “Children are at a higher risk than adults from passive smoking because their lungs are smaller and their rate of breathing is faster.
“They are invariably given no choice as to whether they wish to travel in a fume-filled vehicle or not, and are too afraid to ask adults to stop smoking.
“Our aim is not to penalise smokers, but to protect the near half a million children in England that the British Lung Foundation say are exposed to potentially toxic levels of second-hand smoke in family cars every week.”
“While we believe in educating people about the health and safety risks involved in motoring, combining education with legislation has proved the most effective way of changing a smoker’s behaviour.”
“We also believe a ban will deter children from taking up the habit after an alarming report shows almost 600 youngsters aged under 16 begin smoking every day in the UK.”
The recent report by the NIHR Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit at Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, Imperial College London, Cancer Research UK and Action on Smoking and Health was based on a survey of 6,500 children. Regionally it revealed that 67 children in London take up smoking every day, and of 74,000 young people in Birmingham, nine take up the daily habit.
DriveSafe is campaigning to make driving safer and more pleasant for motorists, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians through its ‘Courtesy on the Road’ campaign. The charity published a driver’s handbook, ‘DriveSafe – An Essential Guide for Motorists’ in association with Aston University in 2012.