Smoking in cars carrying children will be banned in England and Wales after MPs this week decided overwhelmingly to approve the plan in a Commons vote.
Harlow’s Tory MP Robert Halfon voted against the ban. Tory and Lib Dem MPs, who were given a free vote, joined forces with Labour MPs to approve the ban by 376 votes to 107, a majority of 269.
The vote came after peers amended the Children and Families Bill to give the health secretary the power to impose a ban.
According to the British Lung Foundation, nearly half a million children in England are exposed to potentially toxic levels of second-hand smoke in family cars every week. Children are especially vulnerable to passive smoking as they have smaller lungs and faster breathing rates. 300,000 GP appointments every year result from children suffering from the effects of second-hand smoke.
Supporters say the ban - which will see a £60 fine imposed on offenders - is needed to protect children from passive smoking.
Suzy Stride, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Harlow, said:
This legislation is about protecting children and I fully support it. Children are especially vulnerable to passive smoking and nearly half a million are exposed to potentially toxic levels of second-hand smoke in family cars in England every week.
It is a simple but vitally important principle at stake. Children have little choice about how they travel and are unlikely to speak out to protect themselves from harmful second hand smoke while in a car.
This is a matter of child protection, not adult choice. Just as seat belt laws and the smoking ban have helped change behaviour in the past, outlawing smoking in cars with children sends a powerful signal and will improve public health.
80% of the general public are for the ban, Parliament is now strongly in favour, Robert Halfon sadly still voted against
Amendments which prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes to under 18s, introduce a ban on proxy buying for minors, and allow the Government to bring in legislation on plain packaging were also approved.