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Tory MP leads opposition to ban on smoking in cars

Thu 23rd June, 2011

A ten minute rule bill to ban adults from smoking in private vehicles where children are present has been criticised by Conservative MP Philip Davies.

Responding to the bill, which was presented by Labour MP Alex Cunningham, Davies argued that:

"In England, smoking has already been banned in a vehicle unless it is used primarily for private purposes by a person who owns it or has the right to use it, or is used at work by only one person or has an open cab. The suggestion of banning smoking in private vehicles while a minor is present is yet another unwarranted intrusion on individual freedom. The Government should have no role in regulating the private lives of adults making decisions as adults. Adults should be free to smoke in a private vehicle providing they do not light up or smoke in a way that distracts from safe driving. Of course adults should show courtesy to others in a private vehicle, but that does not require the nanny-state legislation proposed by the hon. Gentleman.

"I would like to know how the hon. Gentleman would implement and enforce his proposal. Perhaps he envisages a scenario where children go around informing the authorities that their parents might have broken the law. Given that the Labour party is so upset about cuts to the police budget, does he really think that the police should be taking time out from catching burglars, rapists and other serious offenders to go around stopping cars to see whether anyone might have smoked in them while a child was on board? Does he think it a serious enough matter for the police to concentrate on? I presume that he would also like cars to go around with tinted windscreens, which might be the only upshot of his proposal. The whole thing is completely ludicrous.

After questioning Cunningham's evidence and the credibility of Action on Smoking and Health, he concluded:

"This proposal is also a solution looking for a problem. Let us look at the evidence on second-hand smoke exposure. A study carried out by Sims et al concluded that second-hand smoke exposure in children declined by nearly 70% between 1996 and 2006—that is, before any ban on smoking was even introduced, which reinforces the point that this Bill is clearly over the top and unnecessary. A survey of smokers showed that 85.3% do not smoke in a car with children in any event, while 6.5% said that they would seek permission before doing so. Again, this proposal is a solution looking for a problem."

The bill was supported by 78 MPs and opposed by 66 MPs. It now moves to a second reading in November

Source: ConservativeHome (23 June 2011)

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