Monday, 12 October 2015

The Dangers of Second Hand Smoke:

by Charlotte Randall

As of the 1st of October 2015, it has become illegal for someone to smoke in a car with a passenger that is under the age of 18. The new law, which applies to Wales and England, states that the driver and smoker could be fined each £50. This new law is designed to protect children and young adults from the dangers of secondhand smoke and applies to:

            -Private vehicles that are enclosed wholly or partially by a roof.

            -Vehicles that have the sunroof open and air conditioning on.

            -Anyone sitting in the open doorway of a vehicle

        The new law has been hailed as a major advancement in the war against second hand smoke, particularly concerning children. However, others have questioned if this is enough.

Dangers of Second Hand Smoke:

Second hand smoke is the smoke inhaled off burning tobacco (cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco and shisha pipes) by someone other than the smoker and is also known as passive smoking. There is a myth is that second hand smoke has no effect on the recipient. However this is not the case. Second had smoke contains over 4000 chemicals, of which roughly 250 can cause serious damage to the body, and can last in the air for over two and half hours after burning, despite windows being open. In the USA it is estimated that second hand smoke causes 34000 deaths from heart disease and 7300 from lung cancer each year, and other effects can be strokes, angina and heart failure. However, the effects of children are predicted to be much worse as their respiratory systems are still developing and are easily damaged. According to the NHS, children who breathe in second hand smoke have increased risks of:

            -Cot death

            -Asthma, and can trigger asthma attacks to children who already have asthma

            -Respiratory conditions such as Bronchitis and pneumonia


            -Coughs and Colds

            -Ear infections such as Otitis Media, which can lead to hearing loss.

Also, there are psychological issues such as children are more likely to smoke if their parents do.

By preventing adults from smoking in cars with children these risks will be seriously decreased. However, the law doesn’t prevent parents smoking in proximity of children in other places, such as the home.

Other smoking bans:

In July 2007, smoking in the UK became banned in public areas such as bars, restaurants and the workplace in order to protect non-smokers from the effects. More recently, over the summer of 2015, further bans were called for outdoor public spaces such as the beach and in some areas of the country are trying voluntary bans that have been put in place, for example in Bristol, in order to discourage people to smoke in proximity of non-smokers.

Stop smoking completely in public?

Of course, many would argue that public smoking should stop all together. A key reason being that people around smokers, in particularly children, don’t choose to inhale the smoke of others and put their lives at risk. Indeed, this was the premise of the recent smoking in cars ban. Moreover, it is argued that stopping smoking in all public areas will persuade people to stop smoking all together as it will become an antisocial thing to do. In the long term this would be advantageous to people’s health and those of the people around them. However, the irradiation of smoking in all public areas would be going against people’s right of choice to be able to smoke. Also, people who don’t want to breathe in second hand smoke have every right to just stay away from people that smoke. Moreover, smoking tobacco is legal and some would consider it to be unfair for the government to then state that they are not able to smoke in public at all. Despite this, children, especially with parents that smoke, don’t’ always have little ability to stay away and it is them who are most effected by passive smoking. While I think that completely banning smoking in public areas may be a little drastic and unnecessary, I believe that stopping people smoking in cars with children is a good step forwards to improving the safety of children around passive smokers. However, the punishment has not been seen to be a deterrent; £50 is not a lot of money and is unlikely to put off many people from doing it. In order for this new law to be a success, many have argued that the consequences of the action should be more damaging in order that it should last.


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