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Let's protect Northern Irish children from smoke

Why Dr Hugh Taggart is backing our campaign to ban smoking in cars with children on board.

Smoking in cars

After recently becoming a grandparent, I've been thinking more and more about the children my wife cared for as a GP.

Over more than 25 years she saw first-hand the devastating effect second-hand smoke has on children. We know that asthma attacks, glue ear, meningitis and even cot death can be the cost of smoking around a child, and it causes 300,000 visits to GPs like my wife every year.

But many people just don’t know how dangerous smoking inside really is. Some think that opening a door or a window is enough to protect their children, while others probably just haven’t thought about it at all.

As a consultant physician at Belfast City Hospital, I came to understand just what smoking does to the body. Supporting so many people with conditions such as COPD or lung cancer showed me how devastating tobacco can be.

Now that my wife and I have 2 lovely grandsons of our own, we’re increasingly aware of just how dependent and vulnerable small children are to the actions of adults. Although most smokers would not light up in the car with their children present, unfortunately a significant number do.

Like the laws on drink driving and using mobile phones, I believe that banning smoking in cars with children present would be a major step forward. It would ensure people are aware about the dangers of second-hand smoke in a car, which can create concentrations of smoke 11 times greater than a smoky pub. I believe it would really convince parents to stop smoking in the car in the first place, rather than just prosecuting them for doing so.

Our children deserve the best protection we can give them. I strongly support the campaign to ensure the law is implemented throughout the whole of the UK.

Thousands of people like you and I put pressure on politicians in England, Scotland and Wales, and it really worked. They are now introducing the ban. But children in Northern Ireland risk being left behind.

We can't let this happen.

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13 April 2015