Second hand smoke can cause lifelong health problems for children
A study by the Royal College of Physicians (2010) shows that living in a household where one or more people smoke more than doubles the risk of sudden infant death, wheezing and bacterial meningitis.
The same study indicates that passive smoking is responsible for 11% of lower respiratory infection in children under 3yrs, and 10% of asthma and 22% of meningitis in children over 5yrs old.
Children are particularly vulnerable in cars
Smoking just 1 cigarette in a car can put air quality into the ‘unhealthy’ category. That same cigarette will emit 50 times more fine particles into a car than those emitted by the car’s exhaust in the time it takes to smoke the cigarette.
A young child does not have the freedom to choose whether or not they travel in the family car. Many children have no choice but to enter this dangerously toxic environment daily.
As many as 13,500 children are at risk in Northern Ireland
37% of the smoking population (250,000 +) have at least one dependent child.
Approximately 20% of the general population allow smoking in cars.
In addition to health issues, there is a sound economic argument for legislation
Each year second hand smoke is responsible for 300,000 GP consultations, 9,500 hospital admissions, and around 40 sudden infant deaths in the UK.
This equates to a cost of £13.6 million in hospital admissions alone, and £10 million in primary care visits and asthma treatment.
Similar legislation has succeeded elsewhere
Legislation banning smoking in cars with children has been introduced in a number of American states, including California and Arkansas, as well as in some states of Canada and Australia.
The Basque region in Spain will be the first European region to introduce similar, and even more extensive legislation, banning smoking in any environment with children, including cars and playgrounds
Northern Ireland would lead the UK and the Republic of Ireland in introducing this legislation.
There is overwhelming support in Northern Ireland for legislation
A recent omnibus survey of 1,000 homes in Northern Ireland has shown that 88% of people support legislation banning smoking in cars with children.