The tobacco display ban is another welcome step in changing Scotland’s relationship with smoking which began with the ban in smoking in public places. But more can be done in our journey towards a healthier Scotland.
Passive smoking is entirely avoidable a
nd a private vehicle is one of the few places a child can still be legally exposed to tobacco smoke. That is why I am seeking a change in the law to safeguard the rights of children in Scotland and to give them a better start in life. My consultation to ban smoking tobacco in vehicles while children are present will be launched on the 28th May.
I stand alongside the British Heart Foundation, British Lung Foundation, Children in Scotland and ASH Scotland, amongst many others, in seeking a change to the law and hope that people and organisations from across Scotland can take part in this important consultation.
It doesn’t seem fair that any child should have to be trapped in a car which is filled with smoke. When you consider the real implications this can have for a child’s immediate and future health, it is clear we need to do what we can to protect children and give them the best start in life.
I think that the smoking ban introduced in 2006 by the Liberal Democrat/Labour coalition is one of the best pieces of legislation ever, because it strikes the right balance between freedom to smoke, and freedom to breathe air free from the poisons in cigarette smoke. That covers public space, though. What about private space? If we ban smoking in cars, surely there’s an argument to ban it in houses? And alcohol is harmful too – we know about the effects of growing up with parents who abuse alcohol. Do we ban drinking in a house where there are under 18s? What about obesity? Do we give the state the right to go through people’s food cupboards and fine per chocolate bar or crisp packet because obesity is such a problem and is going to cost us a fortune in the future? If the issue is with the proven risks of cigarette smoke in a very confined space, you don’t get much more confined than a womb. Do we ban smoking in pregnancy? Even if we thought that was a good idea, which I don’t, how on earth do you enforce that?