MPs Vote For Ban On Smoking In Cars With Children
MPs have been involved in an overwhelming show of support for a ban on smoking in cars carrying children, according to recent headlines. The media is basing the news on the passing of an amendment to the Children and Families Bill in the House of Commons, which empowers but does not compel ministers to bring in a ban on smoking in cars when children are present. The amendment has already been passed by the House of Lords, and if a ban is enforced then it remains to be seen whether or not it will come into effect, or what the penalty will be for violating the ban. Exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke has been connected with a number of child health issues, including lung infections, asthma, wheezing, meningitis, sudden infant death syndrome and middle ear infections, such as ‘glue ear’. Second-hand smoke exposure is also known to lead to a number of chronic diseases in adulthood as well, such as cardiovascular disease and other diseases which affect the heart and blood vessels, as well as certain cancers. If the amendment to the bill is passed, the UK will follow the lead from countries such as Canada, the U.S, Australia, Cyprus and South Africa. Here, they already have laws in place banning smoking in cars, particularly those carrying children. This is an issue which has been in debate for many years and has come into prominence in recent years as more studies have taken place surrounding the damaging effects of smoking, not just on those who smoke but also surrounding people. Now, as the bill reaches the House of Commons, it is being seen as more of a serious and noteworthy issue. There is still much to discuss this problem, but many people see this as a really significant step in the right direction.
A UK study looked into the levels of fine particulate matter as a marker of second-hand smoke present in the rear passenger seat of a car, where smoking either did or did not take place. This term – fine particulate matter – is a term used to describe the small particles of substances found in the air, and the size of the fine particulate matter is the main cause of concern for public health as they can easily enter the lungs due to their size. Once they’ve entered the lungs and heart, they can really affect the individual’s health. Measurements were taken over a three-day period in 17 people, 14 of which were smokers. These people completed a total of 104 journeys in the course of the study, 63 where smoking took place, which lasted around 27 minutes on average. Researchers found that the fine particulate matter in cars where smoking took place was very high and far exceeded the international air quality guidance values. The concentrations were strongly linked to how many cigarettes were smoked per minute. Researchers found that although forced ventilation and opening car windows was common during the journeys involving smoking, this didn’t decrease the concentrations to below the World Health Organisation indoor air quality guidance, which should be 25mg/m3.Researchers found that the children exposed to these levels of fine particulate matter are likely to suffer the negative effects of this activity. The BBC has reported that the legislation confirming the ban could be expected in May 2014, when the government sets out its proposed legislative programme for the year – many hope to see this ban put in place very soon.
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