London drivers’ freedom under threat as BMA calls for smoking ban


Outraged Londoners claim their freedom will be compromised if the British Medical Association’s latest plea to ban smoking in cars goes through.


By Amaris Cole

Outraged Londoners claim their freedom will be compromised if the British Medical Association’s latest plea for the government to ban drivers smoking in their cars is implemented.

The BMA announced this advice the same day as results were revealed from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health inquiry on smoking in private vehicles, focussing particularly on vehicles with children present.

The inquiry was set up in response to the proposed Smoking and Private Vehicles Bill, and calls for a public consultation on the issue, after saying the government have not yet done enough.

APPG Chairman, Steven Williams MP, said: “While welcoming the Department of Health’s commitment to launch a marketing campaign to encourage people to make their homes and cars smokefree, having listened to the experts, I believe this will not be enough.”

But some predict the results will not support the MPs bill.

Some smokers, non-smokers and ex-smokers all say the proposals are a step too far in restricting citizens, with some asking where these restrictions will stop.

Tony West, a fitness fanatic from Wimbledon, said: “People should be able to do what they want in their own private property. Next thing you know you’ll go into a pub and be told you’re only allowed two pints.”

Forest, the smokers’ lobby group, agree.

While not condoning smoking in cars with children, they claim only a minority of people do this now.

Organisation director, Simon Clark, said: “There is no justification for a ban in smoking in cars, with or without children present. The evidence that it is harmful to other passengers is weak, to say the least.”

He says the legislation is a gross over-reaction.

However proponents believe more needs to be done.

Mr Williams says the killer fact is that just one cigarette during a typical 30 minute car journey with the windows closed leads to levels of second-hand smoke about seven times those of the smoky bars that existed before the 2007 ban.

He added: “This is clearly intolerable and it’s time to turn the debate to how to best protect our children from second-hand smoke.”

The APPG held an oral evidence hearing at the beginning of the month, at which six experts gave their opinion on the issue, before releasing their report.

Both sides of the debate are eager to learn how the government will respond.

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