News In Focus
MSP seeks to ban smoking in cars carrying children
Smoking in private vehicles while a child under 16 is present would be outlawed in Scotland if a new proposal for a member's bill is taken up by the Scottish Parliament.
Liberal Democrat health spoksperson Jim Hume MSP yesterday launched a consultation on his proposal for a Smoking (Children in Vehicles) (Scotland) Bill, claiming that secondhand tobacco smoke in cars has serious negative health impacts for children.
Mr Hume described as "shocking" research figures he produced that 17% of 11-16 year olds in the UK are exposed to second-hand smoke more than once a week while in a car, with a further 30% indicating exposure once a week or less. Health risks, he says, include sudden infant death syndrome, coughing, wheezing, asthma and respiratory tract infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia, as well as lung cancer from second hand smoke and an increased likelihood of affected children taking up smoking later in life.
Similar bans already exist in a number of Canadian and Australian provinces and states, and Mr Hume says it would be enforced by police in the same way as the rules about seat belts and mobile phones. The individual smoking rather than the driver, if different, would be penalised, with a fixed penalty fine of £60. No penalty points would be added to a driver's licence.
The proposal is backed by health organisations including the British Heart Foundation, the British Lung Foundation, Action on Smoking and Health, and Cancer Research UK, as well as Scotland's Children's Commissioner and the charity Children in Scotland. The consultation is open until 30 August 2013 and views should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
A final proposal would then be lodged in the Parliament whch would require the support of at least 18 other MSPs from three different parties to proceed.