Birmingham health chiefs hope the forthcoming ban on smoking in cars carrying children will encourage more smokers to quit.
From 1 October 2015 it will be an offence:
- for a person of any age to smoke in a private vehicle that is carrying someone who is under 18
- for a driver (including a provisional driver) not to stop someone smoking in these circumstances
The new legislation aims to protect young people under-18 from second-hand smoke and Cabinet member for Health and Social Care, Cllr Paulette Hamilton, believes it will make a massive difference to the lives of thousands of Birmingham children.
She said: “I welcome this legislation. It’s staggering that 300,000 GP appointments are made every single year in England as a consequence of children suffering the effects of second-hand smoke.
“Many of these children are exposed to second-hand smoke in family cars, putting them at increased risk of a wide range of conditions, including respiratory illnesses, meningitis and asthma. It’s only right that these children are properly protected.”
Director of Public Health, Dr Adrian Phillips, added: “In addition to protecting the health of our children, I hope this legislation will encourage some smokers to quit and if that’s the case, our Stop Smoking Service in Birmingham is there to help.
“It’s important to stress that this is not about punishing smokers – it’s about protecting innocent victims of a habit that ruins far too many lives.”
For friendly, expert advice and support on how to quit smoking:
- Call the Birmingham stop smoking service on 0800 052 5855
- Text ‘QUIT’ to 80800
- Go to: http://www.bhamcommunity.nhs.uk/about-us/services/adults/stop-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.
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.
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.
And Michelle McLoughlin, Chief Nurse at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, said: “We welcome any measure that’s aimed at safeguarding the health of our children. We know the health risks caused by second-hand smoke but children exposed in cars aren’t in a position to make a choice, so the new law coming into force on October 1 is really positive as a proactive protective step.”
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.