The fifth anniversary of the smokefree law in England falls on Sunday 1 July.
The ban on smoking in public places remains popular  and has resulted in significant health benefits. For example, in the 12 months following implementation of the law in England there were 1,200 fewer emergency admissions to hospital for heart attack. A systematic review of the evidence commissioned by the Government published last year concluded that smokefree laws are effective in reducing exposure to secondhand smoke and that there was no evidence that the smokefree legislation had had any negative impact on the hospitality industry.
However, despite the undoubted success of the law in protecting people in the workplace from
secondhand smoke, some people, particularly children, remain at risk from involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke, particularly in the home and in cars. A recent national poll revealed that:
- almost one in ten non-smoking adults are exposed to smoke in other people’s cars
- 2% of adults are exposed to smoke in work vehicles where smoking is against the law.
- 15% of smokers allow smoking in their car at any time, regardless of the presence of children
Not surprisingly, a large majority (79%) of non smokers do not allow smoking in their car at any time. There is also a good deal of support among the British public for the smokefree law to be extended to include cars. The same YouGov research found that:
- 80% believe smoking in cars with children should be banned
- 58% believe smoking in cars with any passenger should be banned
- 43% believe smoking should be banned in all cars (compared with 38% who disagree).
Although most people can now live and work without coming into contact with tobacco smoke, some sections of the population, particularly children, are still exposed to secondhand smoke especially in the home and in private vehicles. A private member’s bill to ban smoking in cars when children are present is due for its second reading on Friday 29th June.
Press release ASH