Welsh Government
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Ban on smoking in cars carrying children could be introduced in Wales – First Minister

Wales could be the first European country to ban smoking in vehicles carrying children, First Minister Carwyn Jones announced today (Wednesday 13 July).

Mr Jones said legislation could be considered later in the current five-year Assembly term if children's exposure to second-hand smoke did not reduce as a result of a mix of stop smoking interventions and campaigns.

He said a ban would be designed first and foremost to protect children from second-hand smoke as well as encouraging adults to give up smoking.

The First Minister added that it would be the next logical step following the ban on smoking in enclosed environments such as offices, pubs and restaurants, given the high concentrations of toxic chemicals present when a person smokes in a vehicle.

The Health Behaviour in School Aged Children survey suggests that around 20 per cent of 11-16 year old school children in Wales report being exposed to smoke the last time they travelled in a car. Those from the least affluent families were more than twice as likely as those from the most affluent families to report being exposed.

The First Minister said:

"Smoking remains the single major cause of preventable and premature death in Wales.  Every year around 5,600 people die from smoking-related illnesses.

"Children are particularly at risk from second-hand smoke, especially in vehicles where a confined space means there is no respite from the harm of the toxic chemicals in cigarettes.

"Our manifesto committed us to take tough action to tackle inequalities in health, particularly the harm caused by tobacco use and its effect on children.

"Wales was the first UK country to vote in favour of a ban on smoking in public places and if necessary we will not shy away from considering the introduction of progressive legislation to further protect children from second-hand smoke.

"A debate on this issue was proposed as part of the consultation on our draft Tobacco Control Action Plan for Wales and the majority of responses were in favour of introducing legislation to ban smoking in cars carrying children.

"The law already requires any vehicle that is used by more than one person in the course of paid or voluntary work to be smoke free and an extension is the next logical step.

"We will mount a renewed campaign to tackle smoking alongside other interventions such as quit programmes, but will consider pursuing legislative options if children's exposure to second-hand smoke does not start to fall within the next three years.

"There is a growing public consensus on the social unacceptability of being exposed to second-hand smoke and introducing legislation would be a powerful statement of intent about our commitment to the health of our children."

Dr Tony Jewell, the Chief Medical Officer for Wales, added:

"Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of smoking, and with no escape from second-hand smoke are more likely to develop long term conditions such as asthma at an early age which will affect them for their rest of their lives.

"There is robust evidence that the level of toxic chemicals is very high in cars even with window ventilation.

"There are wider long term public health benefits too, as evidence shows that children are also more likely to pick up the smoking habit and continue smoking in their adult years if their parents smoke in front of them."

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