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Birmingham health expert's delight at ban on smoking in cars carrying children

Pro-smoking campaigners Forest claim the legislation is excessive

The ban on smoking in cars carrying children has been hailed as a victory for young people’s health by a senior Birmingham councillor.

Coun John Cotton said he was ‘delighted’ after MPs voted 342 to 74 in favour of the move, which aims to protect young people under-18 from second-hand smoke.

Seven Birmingham MPs voted in favour of the ban – Labour’s Gisela Stuart, Jack Dromey, Shabana Mahmood, Richard Burden, Khalid Mahmood and Steve McCabe; along with Conservative Andrew Mitchell.

While not present were Labour’s Roger Godsiff and Liam Byrne; and Liberal Democrat John Hemming.

But pro-smoking campaigners Forest have claimed that the legislation is excessive.

Every year over 4,500 people die in Birmingham from a smoking related disease.

British Lung Foundation figures show that around 185,000 children between the ages of 11-15 in England are exposed to potentially toxic concentrations of second-hand smoke in their family car every day or most days.

Coun John Cotton

Coun Cotton, Birmingham City Councillor Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, says the legislation – which comes into force on October 1 – will make a massive difference to children’s lives.

He said: “The staggering fact is that 300,000 GP appointments are made every single year as a consequence of children suffering the effects of second-hand smoke and I’m delighted that MPs have at last voted to put the needs of those children first.

“Nearly half a million children in England are exposed to second-hand smoke in family cars every week, putting them at increased risk of a wide range of conditions, including respiratory illnesses, meningitis and asthma.”

“In addition to protecting our children, this legislation may also encourage some smokers to quit,” added Coun Cotton. “If that’s the case, our Stop Smoking Service in Birmingham is there to help.

“This is not about punishing smokers – it’s about protecting innocent victims of a habit that ruins far too many lives.”

But Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, said the legislation was excessive.

“The Government is taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. The overwhelming majority of smokers know smoking in a car with children is inconsiderate and they don’t do it.”

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