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Smoking in cars with children is inconsiderate but don't ban it

I've just done back-to-back interviews on the subject of smoking in cars with children.

According to the British Lung Foundation, which is campaigning to ban smoking in cars with children, more than 430,000 children aged 11-15 in England are exposed to second-hand smoke in their family cars at least once a week.

Frankly, I shall treat these figures with the same contempt I had for the "estimates" and calculations that suggested 11,000 non-smokers died each year from the effects of passive smoking before the introduction of the smoking ban.

I just don't believe them.

In my opinion smoking in cars with children is inconsiderate but that's no reason to ban it. A 2010 poll of 1,000 smokers found that 84 per cent of adults wouldn't dream of lighting a cigarette in a car if a child was present.

Earlier this year researchers in Ireland observed 2,230 drivers in Dublin and found that just 31 drivers (1.39 per cent) were smoking while driving and only one child was exposed to tobacco smoke.

Dublin is not unlike many towns and cities in Britain and I believe that if the same survey was conducted in the UK we would get a similar result.

Times have changed and the behaviour of most smokers has changed too. Legislation will make little or no difference apart from making it easier to take the "next logical step" towards a total ban on smoking in cars.

This morning I went head-to-head with BLF spokesman Dr John Moore-Gillon. Twice.

It was noticeable that on the second occasion he spent a disproportionate amount of time talking about Forest and our links with the tobacco industry.

I was quite flattered, actually, because he said he'd been following Forest for 30 years. He's been reading our website too.

Of course, this all distracted from the subject of the interview but perhaps that was the intention. When your message is weak try and discredit the opposition with playground comments such as "Who would you believe ...?" etc etc.

Anyway, here's Forest's full response to the BLF:

The smokers’ group Forest has urged the government to reject calls to ban smoking in cars with children.

According to new figures released by the British Lung Foundation, “around 185,000 children between the ages of 11-15 in England are exposed to “potentially toxic concentrations of second-hand smoke in their family car every day or most days”,

Responding to the BLF’s “data analysis”, Simon Clark, director of Forest, said:

“We believe these figures are extremely misleading. They are estimates based on questionable calculations.

“According to surveys, only a very small number of adults still smoke in cars with children present. It’s inconsiderate and most adults recognise that.

“Legislation is disproportionate to the problem. It would be very difficult to enforce and would be a huge waste of police resources.

“Education has to be better than coercion.”

See: Thousands of children 'driven in smoky cars' (BBC News), More than 430,000 children travel in smoke-filled cars every week (Daily Mirror)

That seems to be the extent of the coverage. If I worked for the BLF I'd be disappointed. Perhaps news editors are growing tired of this flim flam.

Update: Someone called Chloe Hamilton (no, I've never heard of her either) has written an article for the Independent (A message to those who smoke in cars with children - there is no excuse for your selfish habit).

She mentions Forest, but not in a good way. You might like to comment.

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Reader Comments (13)

It appears to be "have a go at car drivers" week. Yesterday it was Brake wanting to ban phones of any kind, today the BLF wanting to ban smoking in cars. A consistent theme is the desire to ban.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 8:56 | Unregistered CommenterIvan D

"The figures are extrapolated from a poll of 7,500 secondary school pupils". only 7,500? So how did they arrive at the figure of 430,000 plus?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 10:19 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

Why can't these comments be voted on , as I entirely agree with both comments.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 12:57 | Unregistered Commenterjean Reid

Adam, they make it up. Take a small figure, blow it massively out of proportion, and then send it to gullible, and too often prejudicial and biased, news media and hey presto - you have a sudden "fact".

The news media should take a long hard look at itself and try and remember what "Journalism" actually is which is not accepting any old bullshit but testing that bullshit for real to see if its true.

I recall a year or two ago a presenter did just that and had the courage to say that she had been taking note of cars in the city with kids inside and she had not seen even one smoker smoking.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 13:28 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

You can bet your bottom dollar, if it goes ahead, it won,t just end up as not smoking only when children are present. It will end up a total ban on smoking in your car.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 15:24 | Unregistered CommenterSheila

I feel completely out of any debate on this issue, not even the 'consideration' issue. When I was a young'un most of my family smoked and I thought nothing of it, anywhere. I travelled in cars whilst people smoked, on buses and trains and thought nothing of any of it. It, simply, didn't bother me. Smoking around others, children or adult, has never been worth a mention.

I cannot understand the bother, at all. But, then I suppose, SHS wasn't around and there were no possibilities of 'careers' to be made in the 'third sector'. People didn't put up with that tripe, then. Too many real problems and too many real lives to be lived and earned. And enjoyed!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 17:29 | Unregistered CommenterFrank J

I think that even our present Lords & Master Debaters will draw the line at banning smoking in private cars-with or without kiddies. Don't get me wrong, it isn't the fact that there is almost no evidence for SHS that will stay their hair covered legalistic hands nor will the polite lobbying of Big Tobacco make any difference.

Simply, THEY know that just about every smoker will disobey the law. It will be, like the banning-in-homes-with-kiddies, the straw that broke Joe Camel's back. Look at the *cough* success of the Cell Phone ban while driving. The only reason the current smoking ban in company vehicles 'works' (if it does much at all) is that smokers won't risk their jobs.

Guilt laden smokers , by and large, accepted the smoking ban in pubs or simply stopped going to them. There are enough smokers still who are happy to pay UK DUTY PAID prices to fund their own persecution. But banning smoking in cars will be the point when even Brit Smokers exclaim: ' I say, steady on'.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 18:40 | Unregistered CommenterThe Blocked Dwarf

Dear Mr Clark

How many* children inside and outside cars are exposed to traffic fumes?

Since only SHS/ETS causes lung cancer in non-smokers, at least according to ASH et al, traffic fumes must be good for children.

The WHO seemed to have changed their collective mind on this recently:

Wonder how long it will take ASH et al to catch up.


* Lots

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 20:11 | Unregistered CommenterDP

"more than 430,000 children aged 11-15 in England are exposed to second-hand smoke in their family cars at least once a week"
How would they know? Did they ask the toddlers how often daddy exposed them?

However we know for sure that ALL children are exposed to exhaust and gasoline fumes not only when they travel in a car but also when they are walked along traffic lanes.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 20:54 | Unregistered Commenterbenpal

I have to agree with Frank J on this one. It is a ridiculous thing to be debating in the first place; a non-existent problem that has been talked-up into an issue.

And I disagree with Simon's approach that smoking in a car with children is 'inconsiderate'. Smoking in a car would only be inconsiderate if the passenger (of whatever age) had a singular and peculiar aversion to the smell of tobacco smoke, which before the propaganda drive / pogrom started was a very rare aversion. Most people, children included, didn't notice the scent of tobacco smoke, so ubiquitous was it.

The success of TCI's second-hand smoke scam has been their biggest coup. On the back of it, they've been able, via the spineless and ignorant politicians, to mount all sorts of venal attacks on smokers. And until the SHS fraud is exposed, they will continue to use it to bully and oppress. That's where all our attention should be focused. Exposing the sham of the pretext for bans.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 23:32 | Unregistered Commenternisakiman

From the BBC report linked by DP
Dr Julie Sharp, the head of health information at the charity, said: "It's important that people keep the risk from air pollution in perspective.

"Although air pollution increases the risk of developing lung cancer by a small amount, other things have a much bigger effect on our risk, particularly smoking."

Couldn't help herself could she. Don't want to be told to stop driving your car then Dr Sharp?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at 0:17 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

An anecdote follows that I tell simply to show that Nisakiman is correct in his view that being inconsiderate is ignoring what other people want - including children - and going ahead anyway with what they dislike whether the offending "smell" is perfume, eating chewing gum (puke), tobacco, or an onion sandwich.

We know for a fact that SHS does not kill or harm others but does irritate a small number of smokerphobics who make themselves ill by their own imaginary problems caused only when they get a slight whiff of smoke anywhere within a 10 mile radius.

Smokerphobia harms others when the smokerphobic either works in a "caring" setting like a hospital or when the smokerphobic promotes hatred towards a consumer group which is then attacked or harmed as a result of that hate campaign and there are plenty of examples of that on the Smokers' Graveyard blog.

Others smokerphobic antis hate smoking because they don't like the smell and train others to recognise it and equate it with something foul and life threatening.

However, last weekend at grand daughter No 1's Birthday party at a community hall, I slipped off to have a smoke and because it was raining, I rolled one up in the kitchen area. There was no one around. All the people there were either smokers or decent non smokers all of whom mingled together outside at times and inside at other times.

A little boy (innocent because his non smoking parents are tolerant and he hasn't yet been groomed in the art of hatred by antis) appeared in the kitchen as I rolled my cigarette and asked what I was doing. I said nothing of interest to children and that it was something he really didn't want to know about. He sniffed and said : "Hmmm, I can smell something..." I waited and expected the "stink" line to follow but he continued : "...hmmmm - it smells like, like, something nice that I could eat." Out of the mouths of babes and children as he saying goes. I smiled and as I headed out in the rain, I said it wasn't something he could eat at all and there was plenty of nicer stuff laid out in the buffet that he would enjoy a lot more.

My point in telling this tale, and which many of us know to be true, is that smell is subjective and no law should be made on the basis that some intolerant phobics don't like a certain smell and teach others that it is something to be hated and feared when the evidence does not back that up.

There is no law yet that demands we all like the same smells and all hate the same smells. That the antis use this against us shows how in truth, the only inconsiderate people today are the selfish abusive, and thuggish antis who are perverting our kids and teaching them how to hate, fear, be abusive and intolerant.

I do not want my descendants to learn that, and neither does my grandchildren's non smoking mums and dads, (or the "Silver Star" smoker family member who goes in a designated room) we all want them to learn the meaning of love, consideration, respect and tolerance.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at 13:20 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

@Pat Nurse: Well said!

Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 1:38 | Unregistered Commenterbenpal

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