New campaign highlights smoking ban in cars

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A campaign to raise awareness of Scotland’s imminent ban on smoking in cars carrying children launched today (November 21, 2016). The new legislation, which comes into force on December 5, 2016, will make it illegal to smoke in a car or other vehicle carrying those aged under 18 – an offence that could carry a fixed penalty fine of £100.

The campaign, which will appear on TV and radio in the lead up to the ban, will highlight both the harms and the penalty, in a bid to encourage more drivers and passengers to comply.

The change in law has been introduced to protect children and young people from the harm caused by second-hand smoke, which can put them at risk of serious conditions such as bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma.

Latest research highlights that the toxic particles in second-hand smoke can reach harmful concentrations within a minute of lighting a cigarette in a car.

Studies have also shown the average toxic particle levels breathed in during a smoking car journey are more than 10 times higher than the average levels found in the air in Edinburgh.

With two weeks until the legislation is introduced, 86 per cent of people in Scotland have expressed support for the move, and a number of organisations have welcomed the new law which will further reduce child exposure to second-hand smoke in Scotland.

Aileen Campbell, Minister for Public Health and Sport said: “It is never safe to smoke in a car carrying a child and the aim of this legislation is to ensure the health of children in Scotland is protected.

“Children breathe faster than adults, and therefore breathe in more of the harmful chemicals contained in second-hand smoke. As 85 per cent of second-hand smoke is invisible and odourless, many may not be aware of the dangerous levels reached, even in short car journeys.

“Scotland recently met its target of reducing the proportion of children exposed to second-hand smoke to six per cent in 2015, benefitting an estimated 50,000 children. This new law will see a further fall in exposure, helping move Scotland towards creating a tobacco-free generation.”

Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of ASH Scotland, said: “We know from speaking to parents that they want to protect their children from tobacco smoke, but often don’t know enough about how smoke is harmful and lingers in the air even after you can’t see or smell it.

“This legislation sends a clear message that children should grow up in a smoke-free environment, and who could disagree with that?”

Irene Johnstone, Head of British Lung Foundation in Scotland said: “It’s vital steps are taken to protect the lung health of our children. This is why the British Lung Foundation campaigned to ban smoking in cars in England and Wales, and wholeheartedly supports the introduction of the legislation in Scotland.

“Every child deserves to breathe clean air, and the ban will protect thousands of children.”