Sheila Duffy: Unfair on child in smoke-filled car

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When it comes to stopping people smoking in cars when children are present, things were really motoring this week.

First, the House of Lords backed a move to bring in the legislation in England. Then, in the Scottish Parliament, Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume unveiled his final proposals for a Bill in Scotland.

At the same time, Mr Hume published the summary of his public consultation on the issue, revealing over 160 responses were received and 84 per cent were in favour of the proposals.

Within just a couple of hours, more than the required 18 MSPs had signed up to support the proposal, meaning the Bill can now be introduced to Parliament. We agree with Mr Hume’s argument.

The MSP says it doesn’t seem fair that a child should be cooped up in a smoke-filled car. They can’t change their means of transport.

Mr Hume says he is confident his final proposal addresses concerns raised around the practicalities of enforcing legislation. In particular, he was pleased to receive the support of a former senior police officer whose contribution should quash any doubts over a law which has been successfully used in many other countries. It already works in areas of Australia, Canada and the US.

And while some say this is an intrusion into private space, the fact is cars fall somewhere in between the public and private spheres. We think the principle is the same as with the requirement for child booster or baby seats. Are we really to believe those are an invasion of privacy?

Scotland has consistently led the way in taking action to tackle the harms caused by tobacco. Now we must once again take the opportunity to introduce a vital measure that will help reduce people’s exposure to high concentrations of a toxic substance in very enclosed spaces.

It is vital MSPs are made aware of the importance of the proposal and urged to support it so this crucial health measure is introduced in Scotland as soon as possible to protect the next generation.

Sheila Duffy is chief executive of ASH Scotland, Frederick Street