Hundreds of thousands of children are still being forced to ride in family cars that are filled with cigarette smoke, according to an estimate from one charity.
The British Lung Foundation says it believes that over 430,000 children aged between 11 and 15 are exposed to second-hand smoke in a car at least once a week.
It bases the figure on extrapolation from a survey of 7,500 secondary school pupils.
The BLF says that 6% of the children it surveyed were exposed to second hand smoke in a car every day or most days, while 8% said that they were exposed to it once or twice per week.
The news comes as the House of Lords prepares to debate a ban on smoking in cars in the presence of children.
“Adults are protected from second-hand smoke in public places and in work vehicles,” says Dr Noel Snell, the BLF’s director of research. “This amendment is fundamental to child protection and must be passed in the Lords if we are to help shape a healthy future for this generation of children.”
However, the smoking advocacy group Forest claims that the BLF’s estimate is misleading, and that a ban is not an appropriate response to the issue.
“According to surveys, only a very small number of adults still smoke in cars with children present. It's inconsiderate and most adults recognise that,” says the group’s director, Simon Clark.
“Legislation is disproportionate to the problem. It would be very difficult to enforce and would be a huge waste of police resources.
“Education has to be better than coercion.”
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