I was brought up in a home where both my parents smoked, I’m sure it must have had an influence on me to start smoking and may well have affected my health. I certainly won’t be smoking in the house when my grandchild comes to visit us in Spain. I would not want to be responsible for any damage to her health nor would I want to encourage her into thinking that smoking is a good habit to take up.
However, there is only so much that Governments can reasonably do to stop people smoking. The UK Government are poised to go beyond that point because twenty of Britain’s most senior doctors have called for a ban on smoking in cars as part of a sweeping expansion of laws to protect children against the effects of inhaling smoke.
The evidence is clear; a recent report by the Royal College of Physicians warns of the toll on health and the NHS caused by passive smoking. It concludes that more than 300,000 GP appointments and 9,500 hospital admissions a year are caused by the effects of smoke on children, costing the NHS about £23 million. Paediatric health problems attributable to second-hand smoke include 20,000 cases of lower respiratory tract infection, 120,000 cases of middle-ear disease and 200 cases of bacterial meningitis. It estimates that about 40 sudden infant deaths are also caused by passive smoking annually.
The report argues that: “Smoke-free legislation needs to be extended much more widely, to include public places visited by children and young people, and including prohibition of all smoking in cars and other vehicles”. As doctors, the authors call on the Government to take the necessary action to protect our children’s future.
Two questions I would like to ask: are the concerns about people’s health or are they more about cost and secondly; just how can they stop people smoking in cars? It seems utterly pointless to me to put legislation on the statute books that is unenforceable. The reasons for this action are right, the steps suggested though are totally flawed. I believe the UK government need to stop this nonsense, go back to the drawing board and rethink their whole strategy on stopping smoking in Britain.