Members of Parliament in the UK have supported a call for smoking in cars to be banned when there are child passengers.
The bill was voted in favour by a majority of 269 votes. This margin will now give Jeremy Hunt, the current Health Secretary, the power to bring in the ban into effect in England. For the ban to be passed in Wales, the Welsh Government ministers will need to have their own vote to decide.
An article produced by the BBC claims that over 700 experts wrote to MPs encouraging them to back the ban. However, critics maintain that legislation in this area is not required and that by passing the ruling the Government are having too much say in how parents raise their kids.
Marketing manager of motors.co.uk Stephen Jury, a leading authority in the Motor industry had this to say: “this proposed ban could have serious implications for anyone thinking of making long-haul car trips with the family. Parents who light up in the car when the kids are present will now have to think twice about continuing with the habit.”
The shadow health minister, Luciana Berger said:
"This is a great victory for child health which will benefit hundreds of thousands of young people across our country. It is a matter of child protection, not adult choice. Ministers now have a duty to bring forward regulations so that we can make this measure a reality and put protections for children in place as soon as possible."
In a move that many people found surprising, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, opposed the ban on a radio phone-in show, saying:
"Of course it's a stupid thing to do to smoke when a child is in the back of a car but you don't always have to have a law to fix things you don't like."
The pro-smoking lobbyist group, Forest, have been quick to reiterate this sentiment. Their director Simon Clark stated that enforcement of this law would invade people’s right to privacy:
“Legislation is completely unnecessary. Most adult smokers accept that smoking in a car with children present is inconsiderate and the overwhelming majority choose not to. Education, not legislation, is the way forward."
Scotland and Northern Ireland will be the next areas in the United Kingdom to consider the bill and whether or not to empower their ministers to enforce it.
Smoking bans for cars carrying children currently exist in other countries, such as: Australia, South Africa, Canada, and the United States of America.