Ministers in Scotland are hoping to stop children being subjected to the dangers of second hand smoke by introducing a law that could land drivers a £60 fine if they spark up with a minor in the car.
The Smoking (Children in Vehicles) Bill is currently in consultation. If successful, it would lead to on-the-spot fines for drivers who disobey. Ministers hope the new law will encourage smokers to be more conscientious of those around others, particularly children, who may not be able to speak up for themselves.
Research has found that the amount of second-hand smoke produced by a single cigrette can be as high as seven times the average level of a smoky bar. Increased levels of smoke have been linked to sudden infant death syndrome, which kills around 290 babies every year in the UK, as well as asthma and other respiratory problems.
While the Scottish government is hoping to make the country smoke-free by 2034, a plan that should reduce the strain on the struggling NHS, not everyone is quite so pleased with the idea.
“A ban on smoking in private vehicles would represent a major intrusion into people’s private lives,” pro-smoking group director Simon Clark said. “What next, a ban on smoking in the home if children are present?”
Perhaps that shouldn’t be such a bad idea, Simon.
Jim Hume, the Liberal Democrat spokesman, was keen to point out countries that already use a similar scheme, such as Australia, Canada and South Africa, have seen positive results.
Should parents have the right to decide whether to smoke with a child in the car, or does the government need to step in to prevent unnecessary health problems? Let us know.