Smoking 'should be banned in cars'

An expert has urged authorities to extend the smoking ban to cars that children are travelling in, as it may pose a serious threat to their health.

According to Wales's chief medical officer Dr Tony Jewell, deaths related to smoking are still too high

And road accidents caused by the habit can also negatively affectscar insurance premiums.

Under current rules, people are not allowed to smoke in enclosed public places. But the expert said the ban should be extended to private cars in order to protect children from second-hand smoke.

The habit leads to as many as 5,650 premature deaths every year in Wales, he said.

Statistics showed that in 2007/08, an estimated £386 million was spent by the NHS due to smoking, which is equivalent to £129 per person.

Dr Jewell said: "People know that smoking is a dangerous habit, but choose to ignore the facts.

"We can only do so much - we provide people with information to make an informed choice and provide the help they need if they decide to quit, but the rest is up to them. However, it is unfair for children to bear the brunt of other people's habits.

"The proposed further tobacco controls, which include a ban on tobacco vending machines and point of sale promotion for tobacco products, go some way in addressing the problem, but we must go further."

Copyright © Press Association 2010