DO you think smoking while a child under 16 is in the car should be illegal?
Do you think tobacco vending machines should be banned?
These are two of the questions being posed to the public in a consultation document issued by the Department of Health this week.
Other measures being considered by health chiefs include reducing the visibility of tobacco products in retail environments.
Health Minister David Anderson said: ‘Since the introduction of the No-Smoking in Premises Regulations in 2008, the public’s exposure to unwanted secondhand smoke has been significantly reduced, with the ability to work in a smokefree environment enshrined in law.
But health problems in relation to secondhand smoke persist, with children particularly at risk and often unable to request that smoking does not happen around them. There is clear evidence that exposure to secondhand smoke causes lung cancer and other serious respiratory diseases. In seeking the public’s views, this consultation will help to formulate future policy and legislation with a view to tackling underage smoking and addiction, as well as protecting the health of minors.’
Dr Paul Emerson, consultant in public health medicine, said: ‘This legislation could be an important step in protecting the health of our young people, and reducing the negative impact that tobacco has on the public’s health. Young people are much more susceptible to secondhand smoke for a number of reasons; for example, their immune systems are still developing. Only last week, new research on the dangers of smoking in cars - which can break the toxic limit even with windows fully open - received widespread national media attention.
‘The current legislation in place, whilst effective at creating smokefree working environments, is less focused on the visibility and availability of tobacco products in public areas, such as vending machines in pubs and shelving in newsagents.
‘Despite our efforts, it is clearly still too easy for young people to obtain cigarettes and tobacco – a drug that, if discovered today, simply wouldn’t be legalised due to its significant health ramifications. That’s why we must continue to examine how we can reduce the uptake of smoking in young people not only to ensure that they can enjoy a healthier future, but also to reduce the need to treat disease caused by smoking.’
The questionnaire can be completed online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/smokefreeconsultation. Copies of the consultation document are available online at www.gov.im/health/ConsultationDetail.gov?id=348, and will also be available from local Commissioners’ offices, libraries, GP Surgeries, Dental Practices, Opticians, the Tynwald Library, Post Office counters, and the Welcome Centre. The consultation ends on December 7.