Page last updated at 16:50 GMT, Wednesday, 22 June 2011 17:50 UK

Bid to protect children from passive smoking in cars

MPs have backed a bill to ban smoking in private vehicles where children are present.

On 22 June 2011, Labour MP Alex Cunningham argued that children were particularly vulnerable to cigarette smoke in cars because of the restricted space in which air was allowed to circulate.

There are 20,000 new cases of children suffering from asthma and wheezing each year because of passive smoking, at a annual cost of £22m to the NHS, he claimed.

Proposing his Smoking in Private Vehicles Bill under the Ten Minute Rule, Mr Cunningham said: "I can't see how it can be a hardship to anyone to stop smoking in private vehicles and the benefits could be tremendous.

"Given the significant health impact on children who are unable to remove themselves from the car, I believe the government should not dismiss calls for a ban."

The bill was opposed by Tory MP for Shipley Philip Davies who described the proposed legislation as "excessive, intrusive and insulting to British parents who smoke".

Mr Davies added that the police did not have time to enforce such a "nanny state" ban.

MPs voted to give the bill a first reading by 78 votes to 66, a majority of 12, but it stands little chance of becoming law without government support.

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