Birmingham health boss, Cllr John Cotton, has hailed the ban on smoking in cars carrying children as a huge victory for children’s health.
MPs voted 342 to 74 in favour of the move, which aims to protect young people under-18 from second-hand smoke.
And Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Cotton, says the legislation, which comes into force on 1 October will make a massive difference to the lives of thousands of Birmingham children.
He said: “Nearly half a million children in England are exposed to second-hand smoke in family cars every week, putting them at increased risk of a wide range of conditions, including respiratory illnesses, meningitis and asthma.
“The staggering fact is that 300,000 GP appointments are made every single year as a consequence of children suffering the effects of second-hand smoke and I’m delighted that MPs have at last voted to put the needs of those children first.
“In addition to protecting our children, this legislation may also encourage some smokers to quit and if thatâ€™s the case, our Stop Smoking Service in Birmingham is there to help. This is not about punishing smokers – it’s about protecting innocent victims of a habit that ruins far too many lives.”
Background to the new legislation
Second-hand smoke can be very harmful to a child’s lungs. Every year, it results in more than 165,000 new episodes of disease among children; 300,000 primary care consultations; 9,500 hospital admissions and around 40 sudden infant deaths.
Children travelling in a car in which an adult is smoking are particularly at risk.
Research has shown that, because cars are such small, enclosed spaces, a single cigarette smoked in a moving car with the window half open exposes a child in the centre of the back seat to around two thirds as much second-hand smoke as in an average smoke-filled pub.
Levels increase to more than 11 times greater than a smoke-filled pub when the cigarette is smoked in a stationary car with the windows closed.
Children are particularly vulnerable to passive smoke, as they have smaller lungs and their immune systems are less developed, which makes them more susceptible to respiratory and ear infections triggered by passive smoking.
British Lung Foundation figures show that around 185,000 children between the ages of 11-15 in England are exposed to potentially toxic concentrations of second-hand smoke in their family car every day or most days.
That’s the equivalent of more than 6,100 classrooms full of children.
The data analysis also showed that over 430,000 children aged 11-15 in England are exposed to second-hand smoke in their family cars at least once a week.
Although members of the public are protected by smoke-free legislation in public transport and in work vehicles, large numbers of children remain exposed to high concentrations of second-hand smoke when confined in family cars.
Smoking in Birmingham
Smoking causes significant economic burden both in terms of increased health expenditure and cost to the Birmingham economy in the form of absenteeism, working days lost and premature retirement.
Premature deaths from smoking are estimated to cost the Birmingham economy £24m each year.
In the UK the majority of smokers start before the age of 18 and in Birmingham, around a third of 16-24 year olds are actively smoking.
In Birmingham around 1 in 5 adults smoke, equating to around 185,000 smokers.
Every year over 4,500 people die in Birmingham from a smoking related disease.
Smoking is directly linked with Birmingham’s three biggest killers, and is directly attributable to:
- 1 in 4 of all cancers,
- 1 in 5 deaths from cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke),
- 1 in 3 of all deaths from respiratory disease
About half of all smokers die from smoking-related diseases. If you are a long-term smoker, on average, your life expectancy is about 10 years less than a non-smoker.
Put another way, in the UK about 8 in 10 non-smokers live past the age of 70, but only about half of long-term smokers live past 70. The younger you are when you start smoking, the more likely you are to smoke for longer and to die early from smoking.
Stop smoking in Birmingham
Giving up smoking is not easy but with help and support from our stop smoking service, you are up to four times more likely to stop than with will power alone.
For friendly, expert advice and support on how to quit smoking, call the Birmingham stop smoking service on 0800 052 5855 free or text ‘QUIT’ to 80800.
For more information about Stop Smoking services in Birmingham, go to:Â http://www.bhamcommunity.nhs.uk/about-us/services-directory/adults-and-communities/citywide-services/stop-smoking/