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Smoking ban in cars carrying children ‘by 2015’

A ban on smoking in cars carrying children in England will come into force before the next general election, which is due in 2015, No 10 has said.

Ministers plan to act on last night’s vote “sooner rather than later”, sources have told the BBC, suggesting legislation could be introduced in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

They added “the details have to be worked through”.

But those who flout the ban could face fines and points on their licences.

The vote – passed by 376 votes to 107 – gave ministers in England and Wales the power to bring in a ban – but does not compel them to do so.

The Welsh government must now decide if they want to make smoking in cars carrying children illegal in Wales.

An amendment to the Children and Families Bill paving the way for a ban was introduced by Labour members of the House of the Lords, which backed it by 222 votes to 197 – despite opposition from the government.

Ministers had argued that the new law was a “blunt instrument” and public information campaigns were preferable.

But the government subsequently introduced its own “more workable” version of the amendment in the Lords, announcing that its MPs would have a free vote on whether to overturn the move in the Commons – meaning that they were able to vote with their consciences, free of pressure from party officials.

The British Medical Association (BMA), which has campaigned for a ban since 2011, said the vote was an “important step forward in reducing tobacco harm”.

Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “The introduction of a law that would help prevent hundreds of thousands of children from being exposed to second-hand smoke in the car is now within reach.

“With both Houses of Parliament having made their support for the ban clear, the onus is now on the government to act accordingly and make this crucial child protection measure law at the earliest opportunity.”

 Monday’s debate on the legislation: from BBC Democracy Live

Analysis of voting lists revealed divisions in the cabinet over the matter.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Chancellor George Osborne, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, Education Secretary Michael Gove, International Development Secretary Justine Greening, Scotland Secretary Alistair Carmichael and Energy Secretary Ed Davey all voted in favour of the ban.

But Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, Home Secretary Theresa May, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith and Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers opposed it.

‘Think twice’PM David Cameron missed the vote while visiting flood-stricken areas in south-west England.

His official spokesman declined to say which way the prime minister would have voted had he been able to attend, but he told reporters: “While he understands the concerns that some have expressed, his view is that the time for this kind of approach has come.”

Following the Commons vote, a Welsh government official said: “We have consistently stated that we will consider the possibility of legislation once we have fully evaluated the impact of the campaign.

“We have commissioned studies of children’s exposure to second-hand smoke in cars and results will be available later this year.”

In Scotland, Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume has indicated he will be presenting a bill this year to bring in a ban, while Northern Ireland’s health minister has announced plans for a consultation on the issue.

AA president Edmund King said: “As has been the case with enforcing the ban on hand-held phones while driving, campaigns and legislation have been shown to reduce illegal behaviour afterwards.

“If a new law manages to make more adults think twice before lighting up with the kids on board, it will have helped.”

But pro-smoking groups described the move as an “unnecessary intrusion”.

Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, said he was “disappointed but not surprised” by the vote and accused the government of being “spineless”.

Smoking in cars

  • Smoke can stay in the air for up to two and a half hours even with a window open
  • Second-hand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, some of which are known to cause cancer
  • Exposure has been strongly linked to chest infections, asthma, ear problems and cot death in children
  • Research indicates 300,000 children in the UK visit a GP each year because of the effects of second-hand smoke, with 9,500 going to hospital
  • Smoking in a car creates a higher concentration of toxins than in a bar – some research has put it at 11 times higher
  • Bans on smoking in cars when children are present already exist in some US states, including California, as well as in parts of Canada and Australia


History of anti-smoking measures

  • 2003 – Banned in indoor public spaces in New York
  • 2006 – Scotland introduces similar law
  • 2007 – Wales, Northern Ireland and England follow
  • 2011 – Australian pilot scheme introduces standard packaging – that is without branding
  • 2013 – Government launches independent review of cigarette packaging in England

via BBC News – Smoking ban in cars carrying children ‘by 2015’.

ONS survey: Smoking halves in 40 years

Smoking rates have dropped in the past 40 years

Smoking in Britain has more than halved and people are drinking on fewer nights of the week, according to a snapshot survey covering the past 40 years.

The General Lifestyle Survey indicates 45% of adults smoked in 1974 compared with 20% in 2011.

The proportion of men who said they drank alcohol at least five days a week fell from 22% in 2005 to 16% in 2011.

The proportion of women drinking five days a week dropped from 13% to 9% over the same period.

There have been repeated campaigns to reduce smoking, which can cause heart problems and lung cancer.

The role of smoking in society has changed significantly, with smoking bans in the work-place coming into force across the UK and bans on cigarette advertising.

Smoking now looks less of a male-dominated habit. Men are still more likely to be smokers – 21% of men now smoke compared with 19% of women. However, back in 1974 the gulf was much larger – 51% of men and 41% of women.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

Of those that do drink, the harms are increasing – and they take time to show themselves…”

Prof Alan Maryon-DavisKings College London

The statistics suggest married people are less likely to smoke than singles, and the unemployed are more likely to smoke than their neighbours in work.

Older people are more likely to have a regular drink, the data indicates. Men and women aged 45 and above are more likely to drink alcohol on five or more days each week than younger generations.

The most significant changes in the past decade were in 16-24-year-olds.

In young men, the proportion drinking more than four units on their biggest drinking session of the week fell from 46% to 32% between 2005 and 2011. There was a similar pattern in women.

However, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures do not look at the amount drinkers are consuming overall. This is thought to be 40% higher now than it was 40 years ago, despite a drop since 2004.

Raising awareness

Alan Maryon-Davis, honorary professor of public health at King’s College London, said the figures for alcohol and smoking were very encouraging, but there was still a long way to go.

“There is more work to be done educating the public about the dangers of drink. We haven’t got labelling of drinks right and there is work to be done in terms of drinks promotions and the use of social media to target young people.

“There are also issues over price and availability. We need to get rid of really cheap discounts on alcohol.”

While hospital admissions for alcohol-related diseases were still high, Prof Maryon-Davis said, there was no room for complacency.

“Of those that do drink, the harms are increasing – and they take time to show themselves.”

Commenting on the survey’s findings, Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said the significant decline in the numbers of people smoking in Britain over the last 40 years was “a testament to the effectiveness of combined legislation and awareness raising in tackling what is Britain’s leading cause of preventable illness and premature death”.

But she added: “The uptake of smoking by young people and childhood exposure to second hand smoke both, however, remain areas of concern.”

“It is encouraging to see measures such as banning smoking in cars when children are present and introduction of standardised packaging for cigarettes being seriously considered by this government.”


Quitting smoking ‘reduces anxiety’

Researchers followed nearly 500 smokers attending NHS stop smoking clinics

Smokers who successfully quit feel less anxious afterwards – despite the belief that smoking relieves stress, researchers say.

The British Journal of Psychiatry study followed nearly 500 smokers attending NHS stop smoking clinics in England.

It found a “significant” decrease in anxiety levels among the 68 smokers who had quit after six months.

The effect was greater among those who had mood and anxiety disorders than those that smoked for pleasure.

The researchers – drawn from several universities including Cambridge, Oxford and Kings’s College in London – said the findings should be used to reassure smokers attempting to quit that concerns about increased anxiety levels were unfounded.


However, the study did suggest that a failed attempt to seemed to increase anxiety levels by a modest degree among those who had mood disorders.

For those who smoked for pleasure a relapse did not alter anxiety levels.

The researchers said it seemed that smokers – particularly those that smoked to cope – were more likely to have a cigarette soon after waking up to stave off withdrawal symptoms, which include anxiety.

By quitting, they removed these repeated episodes of anxiety and felt less anxious as a result, they added.

It comes as the government has launched a graphic anti-smoking advertising campaign, which features a cigarette with a tumour growing from it, and as many smokers prepare to quit as part of their new year resolutions.


Australia smokers given plain packs

An example of what cigarette packets in Australia may look like
Grim health warnings like this are replacing the branding on cigarette packets in Australia

By Duncan KennedyBBC News, Sydney

Australia has become the first country in the world to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes.

From now, all tobacco company logos and colours will be banned from packets.

They have been replaced by a dreary, uniform, green/brown, colour accompanied by a raft of anti-smoking messages and photographs.

The only concession to the tobacco companies is their name and the name of the brand variant in small print at the bottom of the box.

“This is the last gasp of a dying industry,” declared Australia’s Health Minister Tanya Plibersek.

Anne Jones of the anti-smoking group Ash (Action on Smoking and Health) agrees.

“Plain packaging has taken the personality away from the pack”, she says.

“Once you take away all the colour coding and imagery and everything is standardised with massive health warnings, you really do de-glamorise the product.”

Cigarette packets were practically the last platform for tobacco companies to advertise themselves.

Commercials on Australian television and radio were banned in 1976. Newspapers followed in 1989.

Targets set

Tobacco sponsorship of sport and cultural events was prohibited in 1992.

That left the packets themselves, which became a target for the current Labor government.

The government’s efforts were led by then-Health Minister Nicola Roxon whose own father, Jack, died from a smoking-related illness when she was 10.

Plain packaging is here to stay in Australia. We now plan to go after the ingredients contained in cigarettes”

Anne Jones of Ash

The government argued that with 15,000 smokers dying each year at a cost to society of AU$30bn (£19bn) it had a duty to act.

It set the target of reducing smoking levels from 16% of the population in 2007, to less than 10% by 2018.

In May 2011, Cancer Council Australia released a review of the evidence surrounding the introduction of plain packaging. The review suggested that packaging plays an important part in encouraging young people to try cigarettes.

That was followed by a telling video, released by anti-smoking campaigners, showing children discussing existing cigarette packets.

One boy says the red on one packet reminds him of his favourite car, a girl admires the pink on another packet, while another boy talks about the “heavenly” colours on his box.

The combined messages about the efficacy of logos and colours in selling cigarettes, helped prompt the government to begin its legislative push to introduce plain packaging.

Not surprisingly, the tobacco industry resisted.

A consortium of major companies, including Phillip Morris, Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco (BAT) came together to plan a counter punch.

That included an extensive media campaign to try to persuade the public and government of the shortcomings of plain packaging.

Cigarettes on display
Tobacco companies say removing the branding from cigarettes will not stop people smoking


BAT’s spokesman, Scott McIntyre, says: “Plain packaging has always been misleading and won’t stop smoking because branded cigarettes will be smuggled in and because tobacco companies will have to respond to that by cutting prices to stay competitive.”

Despite those arguments, last August Australia’s High Court ruled in favour of the government.

It threw out technical arguments by the tobacco companies that the government was trying to “acquire” their intellectual property rights by removing logos.

“Plain packaging is a game changer,” says Anne Jones, a veteran of anti-smoking campaigns.

“It means that you can take on big tobacco and win.”

It’s known that Britain, France, Norway, India and New Zealand have been among those following the Australian court case closely, to see if there are any lessons for similar plain packaging measures in their countries.

Rare legal set back

But Scott McIntyre of BAT says it is not that straightforward, arguing that the Australian government only won because of the peculiarities of Australian constitutional law.

But there is no doubt that tobacco companies have suffered a rare legal set back, although there could still be further action by them at the World Trade Organization.

“We don’t fear that,” says Anne Jones of Ash.

“Plain packaging is here to stay in Australia. We now plan to go after the ingredients contained in cigarettes.”

Anti-smoking lobbyists like Anne Jones know that packaging changes alone wont significantly curb smoking, especially among established smokers.

Price, availability, information campaigns and health messages play an equally important role.

But cigarette packets will no longer be mini, mobile advertising boards and, for those working to reduce smoking levels, plain packaging is an important stage in the shift to a smoking-free society.


Smoking in the car ‘breaks toxic limit’

driver smoking

The researchers used monitors strapped to the back seat of the car to measure pollution levels

By Michelle Roberts Health editor, BBC News online
Smoking in the car, even with the windows open or the air conditioning on, creates pollution that exceeds official “safe” limits, scientists say.
Any child sitting in the back of a car when someone in the front is smoking would be exposed to this.

A Scottish team who took measurements during 85 car journeys found readings broke World Health Organization limits, Tobacco Control journal reports.

The British Medical Association says all smoking in cars should be banned.

Currently, it is legal in the UK.

‘Civil rights’

Children are particularly susceptible because they have faster breathing rates, a less developed immune system and are largely unable to escape or avoid exposure to second-hand smoke, says Dr Sean Semple, of the University of Aberdeen.

Using a device strapped to the back seat of the car, the researchers logged and then analysed air quality data during a number of journeys ranging from about 10 minutes to an hour in duration.


We believe that there is a clear need for legislation to prohibit smoking in cars where children are present”

The study authors

In 49 of the 85 journeys in total, the driver smoked up to four cigarettes.

During these 49 smoking journeys, levels of fine particulate matter averaged 85µg/m3, which is more than three times higher than the 25µg/m3 maximum safe indoor air limit recommended by the World Health Organization.

Even if the driver smoked only one cigarette and had the window wide open, particulate matter levels still exceeded the limit at some point during the journey.

On average, the level of second-hand smoke was between one-half and one-third of that measured in UK bars before the ban on smoking in public places came into force.

Levels averaged 7.4µg/m3 during the 34 smoke-free journeys.


Parents must be allowed to use their common sense, and most of the time they do – there is no need for further regulation”

Simon Clark Forest

The research authors say: “The evidence from this [research] paper is that second-hand smoke concentrations in cars where smoking takes place are likely to be harmful to health under most ventilation conditions.

“We believe that there is a clear need for legislation to prohibit smoking in cars where children are present.”

But Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ lobby group Forest, says: “We don’t encourage adults to smoke in a car if small children are present, out of courtesy if nothing else, but we would strongly oppose legislation to ban smoking in cars.

“According to research, 84% of adults don’t smoke in a car with children present so legislation to ban it would be disproportionate.

“In terms of civil rights we are entering difficult territory. For most people a car is their private space. If you ban smoking in cars with children, the next logical step is to ban parents from smoking in the home.

“Parents must be allowed to use their common sense, and most of the time they do. There is no need for further regulation.”

But Prof John Britton, chair of the Royal College of Physicians Tobacco Advisory Group, says a ban is necessary to protect children.

He said estimates suggested that each year passive smoking in children accounted for more than 20,000 cases of lower respiratory tract infection, 200 cases of bacterial meningitis, and 40 sudden infant deaths.

And last November the British Medical Association said an outright ban – even if there were no passengers – would be the best way of protecting children as well as non-smoking adults.


Swiss reject full ban on smoking in public spaces

Smoking (file image)
Smoking restrictions have been applied unevenly across Swiss cantons

Voters in Switzerland have rejected a total ban on smoking in enclosed public places at a referendum.

Although Geneva voted slightly in favour, results from the country’s other 25 cantons showed a majority of voters rejected a full ban.

Hotels, restaurants and bars are allowed rooms for smokers but critics say workers’ health is at risk.

Restrictions introduced two years ago were watered down after lobbying from the catering trade and tobacco firms.

In some cantons, more than 70% of voters rejected the ban, according to Geneva newspaper La Tribune de Geneve. Geneva itself bucked the trend by supporting the ban by 52% to 48%.

Geneva and seven other cantons have already imposed their own comprehensive bans on indoor smoking in places of employment while the remaining, smaller cantons have been less restrictive.

The result was welcomed by the Swiss Business Federation which called it “heartening”.

“The initiative would have imposed more costs on restaurateurs who have already made considerable investments to protect non-smokers,” it said in a statement.

Result ‘deplored’

Swiss hotel association Hotelleriesuisse said it was relieved by the outcome. It said a “yes” vote would have made “some investments obsolete”.

The Swiss Socialist party “deplored” the result, saying that better protection against passive smoking would have “incontestably been a major step in the improvement of (workers’) conditions”.

Speaking before the vote, Jean-Charles Rielle, a doctor and member of the committee behind the proposal, told AFP news agency that they wanted to clear up confusion created by the existing regulations.

“In the cantons where these laws [banning smoking rooms] are already in effect, we saw immediately… a 20% drop in hospitalisation due to cardiovascular incidents, heart attacks and these kinds of problems,” he said.

La Tribune de Geneve suggests voters rejected a full ban because they did not want to force the smaller cantons into changing their local laws, and because of resentment at perceived state interference in people’s lives.


Peers back smoking ban for cars with children present

Man smoking in car

Peers have backed plans to ban smoking in cars when children are present, but supporters admit they do not have government backing for the move.

The House of Lords approved Lord Ribeiro’s private member’s bill to make offenders liable for a £60 fine or attendance at a smoke awareness course.

The measure would need the support of MPs to become law and David Cameron has questioned whether it is justified.

He has suggested it would have serious implications for personal freedoms.

Mr Cameron told MPs last year that while he backed the ban on smoking in pubs, he felt “more nervous” about proscribing what people should and should not do in private vehicles.

‘Raise the ante’

Parliament needed to have a “serious think” before taking such a step, he added.

The Lords voted through Lord Ribeiro’s bill – which was backed by many health campaigners and charities – on the nod on Monday.

The Conservative peer said there was not strong government support for legislation in the area, with ministers favouring education as a way of persuading parents to change their behaviour.

He said most smokers did not do so while driving their children but there was a “hard core” of parents whose behaviour had to be addressed.

The proposed legislation would “raise the ante” over the issue and remind ministers there were other options should their approach not succeed in protecting children from harm.

Labour MP Alex Cunningham introduced legislation urging a ban in the Commons last year but despite clearing its first legislative hurdle, it faced significant opposition from MPs of all parties.


Smoking and drinking has ‘little effect’ on sperm counts


Lifestyle advice given to tackle male infertility may be futile and could delay other options, according to researchers in the UK.

Their study in the journal Human Reproduction said smoking, alcohol consumption and being obese did not affect semen quality.

However, they warned that avoiding them was still “good health advice”.

Wearing boxer shorts rather than tighter underwear was linked to higher sperm levels.

Advice for doctors by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence says men should be warned about the impact of smoking, drinking and taking recreational drugs on their sperm.


A study by researchers at the Universities of Sheffield and Manchester compared the lifestyles of 939 men with poor sperm quality with 1,310 men with normal sperm quality.

There is no need for them to become monks just because they want to be a dad”

Dr Allan Pacey University of Sheffield

The study showed there was little difference in the number of mobile sperm between patients who never smoked and those who had a 20-a-day habit.

There was “little evidence” that recreational drug use, a high BMI or excessive alcohol consumption affected sperm quality.

Dr Andrew Povey, from the University of Manchester, said there was these lifestyle choices were hugely important for wider health but “probably have little influence” on male fertility.

He said: “This potentially overturns much of the current advice given to men about how they might improve their fertility and suggests that many common lifestyle risks may not be as important as we previously thought.

“Delaying fertility treatment then for these couples so that they can make changes to their lifestyles, for which there is little evidence of effectiveness, is unlikely to improve their chances of a conception and, indeed, might be prejudicial for couples with little time left to lose.”

Wearing boxer shorts was associated with higher-quality sperm.

Dr Allan Pacey from the University of Sheffield said: “In spite of our results, it’s important that men continue to follow sensible health advice and watch their weight, stop smoking and drink alcohol within sensible limits. But there is no need for them to become monks just because they want to be a dad.

“Although if they are a fan of tight Y-fronts, then switching underpants to something a bit looser for a few months might be a good idea.”

There are other measures of fertility, such as the size and shape of the sperm or the quality of the sperms’ DNA, which were not considered in the study.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence is reviewing the evidence.

A NICE spokesperson said: “The draft update of our fertility guideline is currently open for consultation.

“However, until the update of this guideline is published later this year, the NHS should continue to follow the recommendations in the current fertility guideline.”


Teen smoking an ‘epidemic’, new report finds

WASHINGTON – Smoking among America’s youth has reached epidemic proportions, starting them on the path to a lifetime of addiction, the United States surgeon general’s office said in its first report on youth smoking since 1994.

Among US high school seniors, one in four is a regular cigarette smoker, and because few high school smokers are able to quit, some 80 per cent will continue to smoke as adults, according to the report released yesterday.

“Today, more than 600,000 middle school students and 3 million high school students smoke. We don’t want our children to start something now that they won’t be able to change later in life,” Surgeon General Dr Regina Benjamin said in the report, which details the scope, health consequences and influences that lead to youth tobacco use.

An estimated 3,800 kids pick up their first cigarette every day and 9 in 10 current smokers started before the age of 18. Some 99 per cent of all first-time tobacco use happens by the age of 26, exposing young people to the long-term health effects of smoking, such as lung cancer and heart disease.

“This report highlights the urgent need to employ proven methods nation-wide that prevent young people from smoking and encourage all smokers to quit, including passage of smoke-free laws, increases in tobacco excise taxes and fully funded tobacco prevention programs,” Mr John Seffrin, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said in a statement.

Although US smoking rates have fallen since 1964, when the surgeon general issued the first health warnings on smoking, progress in curbing youth smoking has stalled in the past decade just as marketing efforts aimed at youth continues to climb.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 1,200 people every day. And for every tobacco-related death, two new “replacement” smokers under the age of 25 take up the habit.

The report criticised tobacco companies for targeting youth, saying the industry spends more than US$1 million (S$1.25 million) an hour – over US$27 million per day – in marketing and promoting tobacco products.

According to the report, advertising messages that make smoking appealing to young people are widespread, and advertising for tobacco products is prominently displayed in retail stores and online.

“Targeted marketing encourages more young people to take up this deadly addiction every day,” US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement.

“This administration is committed to doing everything we can do to prevent our children from using tobacco.” REUTERS

Read More: TodayOnline


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