The Welsh Assembly is set to make Wales the first area in the UK that puts a full ban on smoking in cars, when there are children present. Although health and family groups are strongly behind the move, there are groups that have said the move is largely pointless because police will not be able to check every car with a smoker in to determine whether there are children in the car or not.
Health groups have long cautioned against smoking around children, and have highlighted the car as being a particularly damaging place for passive smoking in children. The confined space, the fact that there is nowhere for the smoke or the children to go, and the ineffectiveness of opening windows have all been highlighted as reasons for the potential banning of smoking in cars by parents.
Despite evidence that points to the health concerns of smoking in cars with children around, the practice continues. Children are not only exposed to increased risk of cancer and serious heart complaints, but incidents of breathing and other health problems are also known to increase. Some parents open their windows, but the smoke particles can still remain inside the car and may still get into the lungs of passengers, causing them potentially fatal harm.
The first minister and the health minister of the principality have said that they will launch a specialist consultation into the move in the coming days. The consultation will not only determine the effects of the ban, but will look at which laws and regulations would need to be changed in order for the ban to take full effect. Health minister Professor Mark Drakeford has said that the support for the banning of smoking in cars has risen over the past three years, fuelled by greater public knowledge of the potential damage that it does.
Approximately 80% of drivers questioned said that they would support the ban, while 88% said that they agreed that the second hand smoke that children are subjected to in cramped conditions is causing them health problems, and that it was a problem for adults as well as children in the car.