Smoking in cars with children present to be banned
Smoking in cars in which children are present will be made a criminal offence in England after MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of introducing the ban by 269 votes, meaning Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been given the power to draft up the new law. Even though some cabinet members were sceptical about how the law would be efficiently enforced, the government will attempt to introduce the anti-smoking legislation prior to the next election after the House of Commons gave their backing to a plan first suggested by Labour. Coalition MPs were given a free vote on the issue but the subject raised disagreements, with Secretary Theresa May siding with the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in arguing against the law. Prime Minister David Cameron was absent from Monday night's vote, visiting areas affected by the flooding in the South West, but had already given his backing to the law against smoking when children are present in the car. Mr Cameron’s spokesman said: “While he understands the concerns that some have expressed, his view is that the time for this kind of approach has come.” After all was said and done, the law was backed by a whopping 376 votes to 107 - leaving majority of 269. Also offering their backing was the Shadow Public Health Minister, Luciana Berger, a staunch supporter of the issue, who joyously commented it was a “great victory for child health which will benefit hundreds of thousands of young people”. She added: “It is a matter of child protection, not adult choice. The will of parliament has been clearly expressed today and this must be respected. Ministers now have a duty to bring forward regulations so that we can make this measure a reality and put protections for children in place as soon as possible.” Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “Having campaigned on this issue for many years, we're absolutely delighted that MPs have backed the ban on smoking in cars carrying children. This could prove a great leap forward for the health of our nation's children.” However, arguing against the law was Simon Clark, director of smokers' lobby group Forest, who admitted smoking in cars with children present was "inconsiderate", there is “a line the state shouldn't cross when it comes to dictating how people behave in private places”. The law is the latest move in a bid to crackdown on smoking and more specifically the catastrophic harm that cigarettes do, and even electronic cigarettes have come under fire recently after MPs also voted to ban the sale of them to under-18s and to enable the introduction of plain packaging on tobacco products.