12/02/2015 - Permalink

Secondhand smoke campaign launches across Shropshire following vote ending smoking in cars carrying children

Related topics: Community / Health

Public Health England today (12 February 2015) launches its campaign to highlight the hidden damage that secondhand smoke in homes and cars can cause to children’s health.

The campaign supported by Shropshire Council’s public health team, following this week’s Government decision to end smoking in cars carrying children in England.

The Smokefree Homes and Cars campaign aims to raise awareness of the damage secondhand smoke causes children ahead of law change from 1 October 2015, whereby drivers and passengers throughout England will not be allowed to smoke in private vehicles when carrying children under 18.  This new law will make it an offence to smoke in a private vehicle with someone under 18 years old present, and for a driver to fail to prevent smoking in a private vehicle with someone under 18 years old present.  People who fail to comply could be issued with a £50 fixed penalty notice.

Secondhand smoke is particularly harmful to children as they breathe more rapidly and have less developed airways.  Children being exposed to secondhand smoke results in more than 300,000 GP consultations and 9,500 hospital admissions every year.

The Government and public health professionals see this vote as a significant milestone in protecting children from the health risks of secondhand smoke.

The Government estimates that three million children in England are exposed to secondhand smoke in their family car, which puts them at risk of serious conditions including respiratory infections, meningitis and triggering asthma.  A survey by the British Lung Foundation found that 86% of children who are exposed to smoking in cars would like the smoker to stop; yet only 31% actually feel able to ask them to do so.

Karen Calder, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for health, and member of Shropshire’s Health and Well-being Board, said:

“The only effective way to protect children is to prevent them breathing secondhand smoke.  Stopping smoking in cars carrying children will help do this.  In light of the new regulations which come into effect in October, I would urge those who do smoke, to consider the risk to their child’s health when exposed to secondhand smoke.” 

Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer, said:

“The passing of regulation to make smoking in cars carrying under 18s illegal is a significant victory for protecting children’s health from secondhand smoke.  Smoking just a single cigarette in a car exposes children to high levels of air pollutants and cancer causing chemicals like arsenic, formaldehyde and tar.

“Children are least equipped to speak out to protest against secondhand smoke, so I welcome this legislation to end smoking in cars when they are present.”

Dr Penny Woods, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation, said:

“After years of campaigning on this issue, we could not be more delighted by the Government’s commitment to help stop smoking in cars with children present.

“With so many children being exposed to secondhand smoke in the family car every week in the UK, we are certain that this measure will prove to be one of the most significant moments for public health since the smokefree legislation of 2007.”

The Smokefree Homes and Cars campaign features advertising on TV, radio and online from 9 February 2015.  It highlights that many parents are often unaware of the damage smoking in the home and car causes to children’s health, and encourages them to quit.

Smokers can search ‘smokefree’ or visit nhs.uk/smokefree  for a range of free support and quitting advice, including the Smokefree app and Quit Kit.

For more information about quitting smoking in Shropshire call Help2Quit on 01743 453537 or visit www.healthyshropshire.co.uk.

If you would prefer to have an online chat with an expert Stop Smoking Adviser, click here. You can also keep in touch via Facebook and twitter @Help2QuitShrops. 

Further information

  1. All campaign imagery, adverts and wider key messages around the legislation can be downloaded by media from: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/bfgxu9ts6w73gz7/AADegh2kw78nAUGtGaeqxMtLa?dl=0
  1. Public Health England exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and well-being, and reduce health inequalities.  It does this through world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, advocacy, partnerships and the delivery of specialist public health services.  PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health.  Website: gov.uk/phe.  twitter: @PHE_uk,  Facebook: www.facebook.com/PublicHealthEngland
  1. While smoking rates have declined over past decades, smoking is still the biggest cause of preventable illness and premature death in the country – accounting for almost 80,000 deaths in England a year.  One in every two long-term smokers will die prematurely from a smoking related disease unless they quit.