The new law to ban smoking in cars that are carrying children as passengers has been welcomed by Nottinghamshire County Council.
The ban, which comes into force on 1st October, aims to protect young people under the age of 18 from second-hand smoke. Drivers found flouting the law could be fined £50.
“This is something we have campaigned for as a council, so we are delighted to see the legislation coming through,” said Coun Joyce Bosniak (Lab), chair of the Nottinghamshire Health and Wellbeing Board.
“We are currently looking at how we tackle tobacco-harm in our communities, and an absolutely vital aspect of this is protecting our children from the damage smoking causes.
“Especially within confined spaces like cars, exposing young people to second-hand smoke opens them up to the risk of developing serious conditions.
“Childeren aren’t always able to articulate when they want someone not to smoke around them. This law takes that out of their hands.”
More than 430,000 children are exposed to second-hand smoke every week, according to the British Lung Foundation. And public-health experts say this can increase the risk of asthma, respiratory infections, meningitis and even cot death.
The county council is also backing a campaign by the Public Health England organisation that highlights the danger of second-hand smoke for youngsters, not just in cars but also in homes. It results in more than 300,000 GP consultations and 9,500 hospital admissions every year.
Some drivers believe the new law is an unnecessary intrusion. But it has the support of the the chief medical officer for England, Prof Dame Sally Davies, who said: “This legislation is a significant victory for protecting children’s health against second-hand snoke.
“Smoking just a single cigarette in a car exposes children to high levels of air pollutants and cancer-causing chemicals, such as arsenic and tar. Children are now equippped to speak out to protest.”