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Wednesday
Jun222011

Smoking in cars: show us the evidence that this is a major health hazard

Remember David Nuttall's Ten Minute Rule Motion to amend the smoking ban?

Today Alex Cunningham, Labour MP for Stockton North on Teeside, will propose his own Ten Minute Rule Motion – to ban smoking in cars where children are present.

It is now standard practise for anti-smokers to claim that secondhand smoke is "23 times more toxic in a vehicle than in a home". And yet, according to Ross MacKenzie MA and Becky Freedman MSc of the University of Sydney School of Public Health in Australia, this widely reported 'fact' does not seem to be based on any scientific evidence whatsoever (Second-hand smoke in cars: How did the '23 times more toxic' myth turn into fact?, CMAJ, 2010).

MacKenzie and Freeman traced the claim to a 1998 story in – wait for it – Rocky Mountain News and a comment by the state legislator who "was quoted as saying she had become concerned about the issue upon hearing the now ubiquitous claim".

In other words, gossip and rumour.

I have just been interviewed on BBC Radio Tees and I explained all this (including the reference to Rocky Mountain News!). I also queried the need for legislation and yet another ban when a survey of 1000 adult smokers last year revealed that:

85.3% said they would not smoke at all [in a car with children present]. A further 6.5% said they would ask before lighting up, therefore 8.2% said they would smoke as normal.

Source: Holden Pearmain survey of 1000 adult (18+) smokers, May 2010

The other point I made was this: anti-smoking campaigners say they only want to ban smoking in cars where children are present. However, how can we believe them? It is only a decade since they were saying that all they wanted was more non-smoking areas in pubs and restaurants. Within a few years they were campaigning for a comprehensive ban.

It is a very short step from banning smoking in cars where children are present to: (a) banning smoking in ALL private vehicles, even if the only occupant is the owner/driver, (b) banning smoking smoking in the home if children are in the house.

Anti-smoking campaigners may say that is not their objective but history shows that they are always looking for the "next logical step".

PS. Philip Davies MP will oppose Alex Cunningham's motion which will follow Prime Minister's Questions at 12.30pm.

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Reader Comments (15)

Simon says "show us the evidence that this is a major health hazard"

Since when Simon, have the so called health bodies, been required to show any 'real evidence'? Not only are they not required to, now they do not even pretend to trump up such dubious facts and figures.

Their 'industry' has built to such an extent, that just the mere utterance of their words is enough for Mr and Mrs average to believe every syllable they trumpet out at us. We have all heard the old lady/man at the bus-stop, who states that so and so must be true, "I 'eard it on the telly" - or " I read it in the paper". Never mind that what was actually said on the 'telly' or in the paper, was something around the lines of "smoking COULD cause serious damage etc etc", with the big emphasis on the "COULD", but Mr and Mrs average do not know the meaning of the word "could", they accept the overall content of the sentence, which is "Smoking causes serious illness etc etc".

And that is how the fake charities and health freak aficionados have built their businesses up today. Their words are law; every sentence they utter is eagerly awaited and believed down to the last tee. With a public like this, why should the anti-smoking industry even bother to try and cough up a few less than dubious 'facts'? They have not only the gullible public in the palms of their hands, but it would seem, the Government as well - but that of course is another story!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 9:49 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

'I 'eard it on the telly'
Yes, its sooo frustrating and despairing to hear this refrain all around us whenever there's a new rule or regulation being brought into law by the Lobbyists via a govt front man.
Meanwhile us smokers will still continue to smoke in our own quiet way.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 10:25 | Unregistered Commenterann

It's illegal to use a mobile phone whilst driving.
Looking around a bit at other drivers when i'm on the road.
You could have fooled me.
This is unenforcable.
Usually the police say so when legislation like this is proposed.
The anti smoke lobby know this.
It's really all about another sneaky notch on the denormalisation ladder or should I say snake.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 11:16 | Unregistered CommenterC777

This is outrageous.

The law banning smoking in trucks and other work vehicles is blatantly ignored because smokers use their smokes as a distraction to the monotony of driving long distances, especially on motorways and when in vehicles restricted to between 50 and 56 mph, even though the legal speed limit for hgv's on motorways is 60mph.

If I didn't smoke whilst driving my truck I would have had a few accidents by now or be the size of a house as the other form of distraction is eating (also not allowed whilst driving).

All logic and common sense has left much of our planet over recent years and is seriously scary!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 11:53 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

It is against the law to smoke in a vehicle used for work purposes. How often can you spot this one being broken? These are bad, unfair laws picking on smokers that turn ordinary people into petty criminals.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 12:14 | Unregistered Commentermark

So instead of smoking openly with a window open on long journeys, some parents will now close windows and smoke surreptitiously to hide the evidence. Imaginbe the danger of a driver ducking their head down on a motorway to avoide detection. Another consequence will be people fitting tinted windows. If so are the police going to do random roadside checks and pull cars with tinted windows over to smell for smoke? or maybe ban tinted windows altogether.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 13:01 | Unregistered CommenterColin Duke

I have heard that Asian women get away with smoking in their cars by fitting the vehicle with a burqa, which stops anyone from seeing what is going on inside the vehicle.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 13:45 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

To be honest, Tobacco Control have run out of steam now. Any further ban is unenforceable. The only reason the current ban works is because it puts the onus on the landlord, and most smokers (being sociable, empathetic types unlike your typical anti) don't want to get them into trouble. Any other ban is simply unenforceable. Ban smoking in the street? Who'll enforce it? Anyone tells me to stop I'll tell them where to go. Besides, how will they fine me? How will they know who I am? Same with a car ban (if you ever get stopped at all - look at the mobile phone law that is widely ignored). Tobacco Control are really just posturing now and desperately trying to look as if they're doing something so they can continue to get our taxes as funding.

I'll give one thing to the antis - the pub ban was very well thought out. If they had relied on fines and the Police and Smoking Enforcers to police it, it wouldn't have lasted 24 hours - mass defiance would have been everywhere. Making every landlord and businessman in the land their unwilling enforcers was a master stroke. But in my car? In the street? Who'll do their dirty work then? Nah, they are getting near the end of the road now. There's nowhere else for them to go and even if they do get this, it'll be ignored (which is bad for them) and then they really will be stuck in a cul-de-sac. Dare we hope that this is actually the beginning of the end for ASH? (Good work by Phil Davies MP, by the way, too).

Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 0:06 | Unregistered CommenterMr A

And then they wonder why people vote for minority parties.......

A motion passed to a second reading, based on nothing. Our MPs should hang their heads in shame. They are either down-right stupid, corrupt or totally ignorant of the facts. Whichever they decide to be, I cannot support a government that is either down-right stupid, corrupt or totally ignorant of the facts.

I think I'll wait for the majority of the non-voters to eventually get off their backsides, rather than wait to see this government take some action.

Yes, the economy is the number one issue for all parties. However, if the current government is either too stupid, too corrupt, or too ignorant of the facts in relation to SHS, then why on earth should I believe that they aren't too stupid, too corrupt or too ignorant of the facts in relation to the economy?

It works both ways.

I spend £150 less each week in my home town as a direct result of the smoking ban. So do my 9 companions. Multiply that by the millions of smokers and non-smoking smokers' friends, and it's a lot of money our Treasury, businesses, charities and deprived communities are losing out on.

I don't think I've any option other than to wait for a revolution of some kind. How on earth can any government tax a product so much, create false scare stories and allow employers and the NHS to directly discriminate against someone who is doing nothing wrong with the scientific evidence also proving that they are doing nothing wrong?

Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 0:16 | Unregistered CommenterMary

In 1953, (sir) Richard Doll produced epidemiological evidence that smoking cigarettes could contribute to the smoker themselves contracting cancer of the lung. I do not refute this.

In 1971, ASH UK was formed, and by 1974 had successfully lobbied the Government to instuct the tobacco companies to put a warning on the side of cigarette packets, 'Cigarettes may harm your health'. I do not refute this.

In 2011, cigarettes, cigras, pipes, even electronic cigarettes not only kill the user but kill everyone else as well, even days later. Isn't it amazing how a bit of education can become an overwhelming bag of shite in barely half a century.

Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 0:48 | Unregistered Commentertimbone

Well seeing as there is scant evidence on the dangers of SHS, the only thing left is a smell which Philip davies admits he does,nt like either but so easily solved by opening a window. I watched the debate with talk of many hospital admissions with respiritory problems which I suppose there probably is but there again no evidence at all that these are caused by smoke.Talk of questioning children to collate evidence and poor children being frightened to complain to their parents when in fact it is them creating the fear.
Just bundles of emotive twaddle.

Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 10:51 | Unregistered Commentersheila

I watched the debate with talk of many hospital admissions with respiritory problems which I suppose there probably is but there again no evidence at all that these are caused by smoke.

Maybe I am too logical, but as smoking rates have been declining the one major 'essential' that has been increasing is cars. At the same time and particularly over the past couple of decades, speed has been great target to swell government coffers. However, the slower the vehicle goes less of the fuel used is burnt and the toxins produced are greater and more concentrated.

In towns and around schools where speed limits are often set at 20mph and prior to this 30mph, there are many children, including young infants in buggies and toddlers who are at just the right height to get the full blast of these toxins from the car exhausts.

Yes, vehicle emissions are a little less harmful now than they used to be, but they are still far more harmful and toxic than any amount of tobacco smoke from the end of a cigarette or exhaled by a smoker.

Logic says to me that this is the reason for the increase in respiratory problems, especially amongst children.

Mary: government too stupid, too corrupt, too ignorant? All three, in my opinion, whichever of the main 3 parties are in power!

Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 11:20 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

On the subject of smoking in cars .
http://conservativehome.blogs.com/parliament/2011/06/philip-davies-leads-the-charge-against-a-ban-on-smoking-in-cars.html

Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 11:28 | Unregistered CommenterSheila Donald

Oh for goodness sake give your blood pressures a rest. It's a ten-minute rule bill. They never get into law.

Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 13:44 | Unregistered Commentersimon (nsc)

Between 1970 and 2000, the population of the US nearly doubled from 170 million to 300 million, but the number of smokers remained flat at 50 million. During that time, the incidence of lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, etc. increased in direct proportion to the increase in population. If smoking could somehow still be claimed to be linked to these diseases, smokers must have gotten awfully busy to have made all those extra non-smokers get all those diseases. And, as well, they would have had to do it despite being banned from smoking in the workplace and other public places.

Saturday, June 25, 2011 at 8:09 | Unregistered Commenterdbear

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