A new law set to stop smoking in cars with under 18s present comes into place today in a bid to protect youngsters from the effects of smoking and while most of us know about health risks such as lung cancer and heart disease, there is a huge risk to children’s developing teeth too when they’re exposed to passive smoke. Michelle Stylianou reports
From today, it will be illegal to smoke in a car with anyone under the age of 18 present in England and Wales. The new law is being implemented to protect children and young people from the dangers of second-hand smoke.
If caught breaking the law, the smoker and driver will both face a £50 fine on the spot. It is hoped that this will encourage people to avoid smoking in a car where minors are present as according to the British Lung Foundation, more than 430,000 children are exposed to second-hand smoke in cars each week.
The law still applies even if the windows are open or if the smoker sits in the open doorway of the vehicle, with the only exception being if a 17 year old is driving their car on their own or if you are driving a convertible with the roof completely down.
more than 430,000 children are exposed to second-hand smoke in cars each week.
It is believed that the law will not just make a big difference to children’s overall health, but according to the UK’s leading dental charity, it will have a profound effect on children’s oral health too. The British Dental Health Foundation has previously highlighted how passive smoking puts children at higher risk from tooth decay and problems with their oral health development.
Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, says ‘Within a confined environment, such as a car, children are exposed to higher concentration of harmful chemicals if somebody is smoking.’
‘Research has shown that a single cigarette smoked in a car with closed windows produces 11 times higher levels of second hand smoke than in an average bar where smoking is permitted,’ said Carter. ‘This is extremely dangerous to anyone within that car, especially children whose dental health is still developing’.
a single cigarette smoked in a car with closed windows produces 11 times higher levels of second hand smoke than in an average bar where smoking is permitted.
Everybody is aware of the dangers of smoking to our health but often overlook the effects on our mouth, gums and teeth. Second hand smoke can lead to gum disease, tooth loss, and in more severe cases mouth cancer.’
He adds, ‘Smoking is the leading cause of mouth cancer which kills almost seven thousand people in the UK annually.’
Second hand smoke can lead to gum disease, tooth loss, and in more severe cases mouth cancer.
The health risks associated with second hand smoking are well known and reported; smoking has been banned in enclosed places in England since July 2007, including a ban on smoking in vehicles used for work.
‘We have already seen from the 2007 smoking ban that moves such as this can help to save lives and that the majority of public voices agree with these types of measures.’ added Dr Carter.
‘Smoking is a deeply antisocial and damaging habit, one which the British Dental Health Foundation has continually highlighted as a key battleground in the fight against oral diseases.’
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