UK Smoking Ban
Written by Faith Anderson on November 23, 2011
Children at Greatest Risk of Second-Hand Smoke Risks
The British Medical Association called for an extension of the current ban on smoking in public places in the UK to include smoking in cars. The Association cited research conducted by the British Lung Foundation, which indicated that the levels of toxins caused by smoking in a car can be up to eleven times higher than those in a smoky bar. The doctors’ union said an outright ban on smoking in cars, even if there are no passengers present, would be the best way to protect children and non-smoking adults from the health risks posed by exposure to second-hand smoke. It also said that young children were particularly vulnerable to the effects of second-hand smoke, as they absorbed more pollutants and their immune systems were less developed.
Side Effects of Second-Hand Smoke Exposure in Confined Spaces
Research has indicated that second-hand smoke can increase a person’s risk of developing a range of serious conditions, including asthma and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and may also impair lung function. Smoking is one of the leading causes of heart and circulatory diseases, and non-smokers who live with smokers and are exposed to second-hand smoke may have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Dr. Vivienne Nathanson, head of science at the BMA, called the proposed band a “bold and courageous” move, although she added that “the evidence for extending smoke-free legislation is compelling.”
Proposed Smoking Legislation Challenged
Although no part of the UK has moved forward with the legislation so far, states in the U.S., Canada and Australia have taken preliminary steps to stop smoking specifically where children are present. According to the BMA, a complete ban would be easier to police and would have the added benefit of improving safety, as smoking could also be a distraction for the driver. Opponents of the legislation have voiced concerns about potential violations of personal freedom. “There is an element of freedom to consider,” said one man who is against the potential ban. “It isn’t for the BMA to dictate what drivers can’t do in their own cars, which is an extension of their homes.”