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UPDATE! Should Smoking With A Baby In The Car Be Banned?

A proposal to ban smoking while you have a child in the car is being debated in the House of Commons today

MPs in the House of Commons are set to vote today on whether smoking in cars should be banned if you have a child under 18 years present.

It would see an ammendment to the current Children and Families Bill, which aims to provide rights and benefits for parents in areas such as flexible working, family just and child health. As we previously reported, the House of Lords passed the vote two weeks ago and now it's being debated in the House of Commons.

The current law only prohibits smoking in vehicles used for work, but many in government feel the law should go further.

'When it comes to improving the health of children, we are duty bound to consider any measure that might make a difference,' said shadow health secretary Andy Burnham.

'Adults are free to make their own choices but that often does not apply to children and that's why society has an obligation to protect them from preventable harm.

'Evidence from other countries shows that stopping smoking in the confined space of a car carrying children can prevent damage to their health and has strong public support.'

The Risks

Cigarette smoke can stay in the air for up to two and a half hours, even with a window open. This means that enclosed spaces such as cars could lead to your child inhaling second-hand smoke.

Exposure to passive smoking has also been linked to chest infections, asthma, ear problems and cot death in children. With bans on smoking in cars in some US states, as well as parts of Canada and Australia, MPs are hoping the same can happen in the UK.

"When it comes to improving the health of children, we are duty bound to consider any measure that might make a difference"

In a letter published in the British Medical Journal last week, respiratory health experts argued that exposure to second-hand smoke is a "major cause of ill-health in children", particularly among the most disadvantaged groups.

However, the Department of Health has said it believes education campaigns are a better way to discourage people from smoking around children than legislation. And pro-smoking groups have unsurprisingly complained, too, saying that banning smoking in private vehicles would be virtually impossible to enforce.

We'll keep you updated on what happens during the debate.

Do you think smoking in cars when children are present should be banned? Let us know in the comment box below.

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