Call to ban smoking in all vehicles

Smoking in vehicles should be banned after a report on passive smoking, doctors say.

Passive smoking leads to 22,000 new cases of asthma-related illness among children each year, the report from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) found.

The body recommends that even drivers who never have child passengers should get out of their cars before lighting up, for reasons of road safety.

As well as asthma and wheezing cases, over 20,000 chest infections, 120,000 bouts of middle ear disease and 200 cases of meningitis in youngsters are thought to be linked to the effects of second-hand smoke both inside and outside the home.

Furthermore, 40 babies die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDs) every year caused by passive smoking - one in five of all SIDs deaths.

Professor John Britton, chairman of the RCP's tobacco advisory group, said legislation to ban smoking in the home would be unenforceable so instead views of "what is acceptable" had to be changed to protect the two million children who live in homes which allow smoking.

But a total ban on smoking in cars and vans would be easier to police than the current situation which expects enforcement officers to differentiate between business and private vehicles, he said.

"We would recommend a ban on smoking in all vehicles," he said.

Current smoke-free legislation is due for review this year and Prof Britton said it was an opportunity to "close remaining gaps".

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