Smokers are being urged to protect their children’s health from the hidden dangers of secondhand smoke in homes and cars.
The Public Health England campaign, backed by Fresh, follows Parliament regulations to end smoking in cars carrying children in England, which has also been supported by local councils including North Tyneside Council.
Secondhand smoke is particularly harmful to children as they breathe more rapidly and have less developed airways than adults.
Lisa Surtees, acting director of Fresh, said: “It is really important we give children legal protection from smoking in cars.
“Breathing in smoke is not their choice and children’s developing lungs are especially vulnerable to smoke.
“We know most children exposed to smoke hate it, but often feel powerless to ask people to stop.
“Too many children in the north east are exposed to smoke, leading to short term health problems.
“This law is a victory for children’s health. It will send a clear message that smoke is harmful and, like the smokefree law, we believe it will be largely self-enforcing.”
Coun Lesley Spillard, whose cabinet portfolio at North Tyneside Council covers public health, said: “Smoking indoors or in a car exposes children in the household to toxic chemicals and an increased risk of illness.
“We’d encourage any parent who smokes to take up the offer of free support to quit, to make sure their homes and cars are smoke-free.”
The law will come into force on October 1, 2015, and people failing to comply could face a £50 fixed penalty notice.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer said: “The passing of regulations to make smoking in cars carrying under 18s illegal is a significant victory for protecting children’s health from secondhand smoke.
“Smoking just a single cigarette in a car exposes children to high levels of air pollutants and cancer causing chemicals like arsenic, formaldehyde and tar.
“Children are least equipped to speak out to protest against secondhand smoke, so I welcome this legislation to end smoking in cars when they are present.”
Smokers can search ‘smokefree’ or visit nhs.uk/smokefree for a range of free support and quitting advice, including the Smokefree app and Quit Kit.