Consultation opens into banning smoking in cars carrying children
AN eight-week consultation opens today on proposals to ban smoking in cars carrying children which would bring the north into line with the Republic, England and Wales.
Existing legislation could be extended to make it an offence to smoke in a private vehicle where someone under 18 is present.
It would also be illegal to fail to prevent someone smoking in the same circumstances.
Health Minister Michelle O’Neill said the harm caused by exposure to second-hand smoke "has long been recognised" and was "the motivating factor behind the introduction of legislation to ban smoking in all indoor public and work places in 2007".
She said children are more susceptible than adults becauase their immune systems are less developed and they have smaller lungs.
"It is inconceivable that we continue to allow children to be exposed to such harm while travelling within the confined space of a car."
The consultation runs from January 6 to March 3 and more information can be found at https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/consultations
Gerry McElwee, Head of Cancer Prevention at Cancer Focus NI, welcomed the consultation and said the charity is working towards a tobacco-free Northern Ireland by 2035.
“In the near future we would also like to see smoking stubbed out wherever children play or learn including playgrounds, public parks, zoos and theme parks."
He added: “There are 2,300 deaths caused by tobacco in Northern Ireland each year with thousands more affected by cancer, respiratory and other smoking related illnesses.
“Most smokers start while they are still children. It is vital that we can take every step possible to try and protect yet another generation from this deadly product.”