A new law banning drivers and passengers from smoking in cars carrying children could be introduced as soon as next month.
Health groups have campaigned to ban smoking in cars since before the 2007 introduction of the smoking ban, with second hand smoke killing an estimated 11,000 people each year.
The British Heart Foundation, which supports the new proposals, says:
“Passive smoke is a cause of short- and long-term illness in others and is particularly harmful to children – especially in enclosed spaces. It can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, and other health problems such as asthma and meningitis.
“Passive smoke negatively impacts on children and can also influence their habits in the future – children who are exposed to smoking in their homes are more likely to smoke than those who are brought up in smokefree environments.”
If passed, the new law could come into effect by October 2015, with drivers facing fines of up to £10,000 for smoking or failing to prevent other passengers smoking in front of children.
According to recent research commissioned by anti-smoking group ASH, smoking costs England approximately £13.1 billion per year, including a cost of £2 billion a year to the NHS.