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.
Motion to ban smoking in cars where children are present supported by 78 votes, and opposed by
68 66 votes. It will proceed to a Second Reading later in the year.
I shall be discussing the subject on BBC Radio London at 5.10.
See also: MP's bid to ban smoking in cars carrying children (London Evening Standard)