Smokers in Sefton are being given one more reason to quit as new Government laws come into force today (October 1) which make it illegal for anyone to smoke in vehicles with children present.
The new law is designed to help protect children from the region and the rest of the country from the dangers of secondhand smoke. Under the ban both the driver and the smoker can be fined £50 if anyone smokes in a vehicle with a person who is under 18.
A recent survey revealed that ending smoking in cars with children is supported by 84% of adults from the North West households with under 18s (ASH YouGov Smokefree GB Survey 2015).
Despite what people might think, opening the car windows does not remove the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. The experiment showed that even with the window open, levels of dangerous chemicals were more than 100 times higher than recommended safety guidelines.
When the windows were closed and the fan on, levels of chemicals were more than 200 times higher than safety guidelines. Furthermore, the amount of the poisonous gas Carbon Monoxide (CO) was two to three times higher than on a busy road at rush hour.
Cllr Ian Moncur, Cabinet Member Health and Wellbeing, said: “More than 80% of secondhand smoke is invisible and odourless and sadly many people in Sefton aren’t aware of the high levels of dangerous chemicals that children are subjected to if they smoke near them, especially in enclosed spaces. This simply needs to stop.
“Even with the window down children are at risk of developing serious health conditions so we welcome the new guidelines preventing anyone from smoking in a vehicle with a child present.”
Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer, said: “This legislation is a landmark in protecting our children from secondhand smoke. Smoking just a single cigarette in a vehicle exposes children to high levels of air pollutants and cancer- causing chemicals like arsenic, formaldehyde and tar, and people often wrongly assume that opening a window, or letting in fresh air, will lessen the damage.
“I hope that all smokers, but particularly drivers and parents, will use the change in law as an opportunity to take the first steps towards quitting. With the laws coinciding with the start of Stoptober, there is no better time to quit and take advantage of the free support on offer.”
Andrea Crossfield, Chief Executive of Tobacco Free Futures who led the campaign for smokefree cars in the North West added: “We have campaigned for smokefree cars for five years, and we hope the change in the law along with the extra information and support available will lead to healthier choices by people across the North West to keep their cars smokefree.
“Smoky cars, packed full of toxic tobacco chemicals, are especially deadly to children because they have smaller lungs, faster breathing and less developed immune systems. Secondhand smoke in cars is dangerous and can be up to 11 times the levels you would find in a smoky room. Our advice is to keep your family safe by keeping your car smokefree.”
Smokers wishing to quit are encouraged to take part in Stoptober, the country’s 28 day mass quit attempt developed by Public Health England, which also begins today.
Stoptober is based on research that by stopping smoking for 28 days you are five times more likely to stop for good.
To sign up to the nation’s biggest mass quit attempt, search Stoptober online or visit www.smokefree.nhs.uk/stoptober or call Healthy Sefton on 0300 100 1000.
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