The Government has said it will introduce a ban on smoking in cars transporting children after MPs backed the move in a vote in the House of Commons last Monday.
Dr Martin Kittel, a partner at Balfron and Forest Medical Centres in Bracknell and a member of the Bracknell & Ascot Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said second-hand smoke in such a concentrated space could harm young lives.
“The concentration of passive smoke in cars would damage the health of youngsters more so than if it was outside in the fresh air,” he said.
“It can really harm others so I think some people need to take responsibility. I am astonished it was not banned a long time ago, to be honest. It has definitely been long overdue.”
He went on to say that children and babies who are subjected to second-hand smoke can suffer from a shortness of breath which can lead to an illness called bronchiolitis – an infection that affects tiny airways that lead to the lungs.
He added: “The lungs of children are still developing so with the concentrated area of being inside the car it could become very harmful to them.
“Children who are not exposed to second-hand smoke are much healthier and do not need medical intervention.”
In Monday’s debate in the House of Commons, MPs gave their support for an amendment to the Children and Families Bill, by 376 votes to 107, to make it a criminal offence for drivers to fail to prevent smoking in their vehicles when children are present.
The free vote came after support in the House of Lords for a new law.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg had previously said he did not support the ban, saying “you don’t always have to have a law to fix things you don’t like”.
However, the Government has said it is working out details of a ban. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is now set to implement legislation in England, while Welsh Government ministers will decide on the ban in Wales.
It could see adults face a fine or penalty points on their driving licence if they are found guilty.
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