South of Scotland MSP Jim Hume has today formally launched his bid to stop smoking in cars with children present. The Scottish Liberal Democrat has now formally introduced a member’s bill, which, if passed, could see smokers hit with a £100 fine if they are caught smoking in their car whilst children under the age of 18 are present.
A number of countries have already legislated to ban smoking in vehicles while children are present, including Australia, Canada, South Africa and others. In Scotland and the UK, private vehicles remain one of the few places where children can legally be exposed to passive smoking.
It is thought that 60,000 children are being exposed to second hand smoke in cars in Scotland every week.
Research has shown that the negative health effects associated with a child’s exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke include increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, coughing and wheezing, asthma and lower respiratory tract infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
The bill already has the support of many of Scotland’s leading health charities.
Mr Hume said: “Today my bill to stop smoking in cars whilst children are present is now formally laid at parliament. This means that the legislation could be in place before the next Scottish Parliament elections. I am delighted that Scottish Labour have already said they will support the move. A shocking 60,000 children each week are exposed to second hand smoke in vehicles. This bill is about guaranteeing that children in Scotland can have the freedom to go on and lead healthy lives if they choose to.
“84 percent of the 160 responses to my consultation were positive and people from across Scotland have expressed their support for the move. I look forward to working with MSPs from all parties as the bill progresses.”
Director of British Heart Foundation Scotland Marjory Burns said: “BHF Scotland fully supports the efforts to ban smoking in vehicles where children are present. We encourage all Members of the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government to support this call to action and protect Scottish children from the harmful impact of second hand smoking.”
ASH Scotland Chief Executive Sheila Duffy said: “We believe that making it an offence to smoke in a vehicle with someone under 18 present would be an appropriate child protection measure. The most recent figures showed that around a quarter of 13 and 15-year-olds in Scotland report being exposed to second-hand smoke during car journeys, which suggests that awareness-raising alone has not proved to be sufficient. Legislation has the potential to protect thousands of our children from the dangers of breathing second-hand tobacco smoke. We believe it can be effectively enforced by the police and that having the legislation focus on cars with children bypasses concerns over interference in people’s private lives. We must take the opportunity to introduce a vital measure that will help reduce young people’s exposure to high concentrations of a toxic substance in very enclosed spaces.”
Dr James Cant, Head of British Lung Foundation Scotland, said: “We know that smoking in cars is a serious health problem for children. The most recent data bears this out, with nearly a quarter of 13 & 15 year olds saying they are sometimes exposed to tobacco smoke when in the car. That second-hand smoke exposure can lead to illnesses from glue ear and asthma attacks to meningitis, and can be a risk factor in cot death. The facts are in, and they’re shocking – second-hand smoke can kill. That’s why we’re so glad to support Jim Hume MSP’s bill to ban this menace. Children in England and Wales are well on the way to receiving this vital protection. Children in Scotland deserve the same protection.”
Jackie Brock, Chief Executive of Children in Scotland, said: “From the outset, we have been happy to support a Bill banning smoking in cars with child passengers. Smoking can lead to ill health and premature death, and a child's right to protection from harm should override an adult's right to smoke in their vehicle when a child is present. Children in Scotland strongly believes we must do all we can to protect the health and development of today's young people, as well as the next generation. Children often do not have a choice about their method of transport and cannot act to protect their health and interests in the same way an adult can. A ban would have health benefits: children are particularly vulnerable to the effect of second hand smoke which can increase the risk of and exacerbate conditions such as asthma. The BMA Board of Science have said that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke for children.”
Gregor McNie, Cancer Research UK’s senior public affairs manager, said: “Children shouldn’t be exposed to cancer-causing second-hand smoke, particularly in a confined space over what can be a number of hours. Stubbing out before getting in a car with children, should become as normal as fastening their seatbelts. This policy has huge public and political support as well as the full backing of the public health community, as part of a wider tobacco control programme.”
Dr Peter Bennie, Chairman of BMA Scotland said: "Smoking in vehicles is a source of concentrated second hand smoke (SHS), and as children are still developing they are at particular risk. The evidence for extending smoke-free legislation is compelling and we would encourage the Scottish Parliament to support the introduction of a ban on smoking in vehicles with children present."
Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, Tam Baillie said: “Children have the right to a healthy and smoke free environment and smoking in vehicles with children present, clearly affects their enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health. I support this proposed change in legislation to help reduce children’s exposure to the harmful toxins in second hand smoke. I would like to see a change in legislation backed up by a broad awareness raising campaign about the dangers of second hand smoke, particularly to children. The voices and concerns of children and young people in such a campaign could also play an important part in encouraging responsible behaviour."