Health officials in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin have today joined forces to highlight new laws which will make it illegal to smoke in cars with children from 1 October 2015.
Telford & Wrekin Council and The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust will launch a campaign to raise awareness with an event at the Shropshire Women and Children’s Centre at the Princess Royal Hospital on Tuesday (1 September).
The new laws mean that both the driver and the smoker could be fined £50. The law, which comes into force on 1 October, applies to every driver in England and Wales, including those with a provisional driving license.
Public opinion of smoking has shifted over a period of years from it being an acceptable habit to being viewed as anti social.
Legislation to limit locations in which people can smoke has created smoke free public spaces and venues and the new legislation highlights the dangers smoking poses to children.
The Telford and Wrekin campaign is aimed at both mums and dads and is backed by the strapline “Thanks For Not Smoking, Mum/Dad!”
As well as raising awareness of the legislation and the date from which it will be enforced, it also intends to support smokers who carry children in cars by highlighting smoking cessation service providers.
There is also the aim to enhance the sense among the wider public that smoking near children is unacceptable behaviour.
Councillor Richard Overton, Telford & Wrekin Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for Public Health, said: “This new legislation is actually an opportunity for smokers to quit for good for the sake of their children.
“Three million children are exposed to second hand smoke in cars, putting their health at risk. Many of them feel embarrassed or frightened to ask adults to stop smoking which is why the regulations are an important step in protecting children from the harms of second hand smoke.
“Our campaign – launched a month before the legislation comes into effect – aims to give children a voice by placing them visually at the heart of the call to action.
“We are seeking to positively encourage smokers to seek help to quit and our campaign underlines the gratitude children will feel if a smoker changes his or her behaviour.”
Lynn Atkin, Lead Nurse for the Women and Children’s Care Group at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, said: “There is indisputable evidence about the damage that second-hand smoke can cause, particularly to young children.
“Children breathe faster than adults which means they are much more susceptible to the dangers of second-hand smoke. Their airways, lungs and immune systems are still developing which increases their risk of harm.
“To protect children, it is essential that parents understand why smoking in vehicles is so dangerous. This new legislation will help to safeguard our children from the dangers of second-hand smoke.”