Should smoking be banned in cars when children are present?

Should smoking be banned in cars carrying children?

Should smoking be banned in cars carrying children?

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The Council of Ministers is to consider whether to ban smoking in vehicles when children are passengers.

MPs backed calls for a similar ban in England and Wales earlier this month.

The Isle of Man’s public health directorate health psychologist and tobacco lead Anita Imberger told iomtoday the directorate was ‘fully supportive of further legislation to prevent children being exposed to second-hand smoke in cars’.

In Tynwald last week, Onchan MHK Zac Hall asked Chief Minister Allan Bell whether he agreed ‘while the right to privacy is an important tenet of our way of life, when children are harmed from exposure to the class-A carcinogens in second-hand smoke, public health and safety take precedence over smoking around children’.

Mr Bell said: ‘We have an absolute responsibility to protect the welfare of children at every level, and I do not think there would be anyone in this Chamber who would disagree with that – and that certainly will be borne in mind when this legislation is considered.’

CoMin is due to consider a paper on the issue shortly.

It is one of a range of controls to strengthen smoke-free legislation under consideration by Health officials.

When asked whether fixed penalty fines would be considered for offenders, Mr Bell replied it would have to be determined whether they were the ‘most effective response’, adding it would require primary legislation .

There were 420 responses to a public consultation, carried out in late 2012, which covered people smoking in cars when children aged under 16 were present.

The results of the consultation are yet to be released, but Ms Imberger said it found that a majority of respondents supported a ban.

The tobacco consultation report states: ‘The risks of exposure to second-hand smoke are well established and in the Isle of Man it has been against the law to smoke in vehicles used for work since April 2008.

‘However, there are no restrictions on smoking in cars which are not used for work purposes even though research has found that secondhand smoke concentrations in vehicles are often greater than those found in pubs and other micro-environments where smoking is taking place.

‘Levels of second-hand smoke in cars can be extremely high because of the restricted area in which the smoke is circulated.

‘Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of second-hand smoke and exposure increases the risk of cot death, glue ear, asthma and other respiratory diseases, and leads to more hospital admissions.’

Radio presenter Stu Peters, who describes himself as ‘pretty much an ex-smoker’, opposed a ban, but said he would be happy to follow medical evidence and not smoke in a car while children were present.

He said when his daughters were younger he quite happily smoked in the car – thinking opening his side window wide did enough to disperse the smoke.

‘However, if the experts are convinced that makes little difference, I’m happy not to smoke in a car with children in it.’

Stu said: ‘However, I do find it a sign of the times the public is no longer allowed to apply common sense after being informed of an allegedly proven risk. There are too many Orwellian busybodies who insist on banning things they disapprove of, often with no reasonable foundation in fact.’

He added: ‘If tobacco is the killer the experts tell us, governments around the world have a duty of care to ban it entirely rather than stay afloat financially on the taxes and duties they rake in from the sale of it.’

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