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Smoking in cars law will protect young people like me

Teenager Liam Pape has helped change the law.

Handing in the petition in 2011 Handing in the petition in 2011


In 2010, I was writing for my school's student newspaper. It was during this time that I first came across the British Lung Foundation.

They were holding an event at my local hospital to kick off a new campaign to protect people like me from second-hand smoke. I was told about their campaign to ban smoking in cars with passengers under the age of 18. 

They set a target of getting 50,000 signatures on a petition by early 2011. I was more than happy to put my name to the cause. 

Visiting Downing Street

Soon enough the target was hit, and in March 2011 I was invited to visit 10 Downing Street where we would hand the petition in (I'm second from the right on the photo).

It was a great privilege, and I remember that the event got a lot of attention. In the years that followed I've attended House of Commons events regarding plain cigarette packaging, been interviewed in the news about the ethics of the tobacco industry, and have continued to campaign with the BLF.

Thankfully I've never actually been in a car when somebody has been smoking, however many of my friends have. Not only did they really hate the smell of it, but they were concerned about the damage that the fumes from cigarettes did to their lungs.

Second-hand smoke can cause many different illnesses in young people (especially infants) varying from ear infections to severe infections and even lung cancer. Most of the toxins in second-hand smoke are invisible, and there are more than 4,000 chemicals in the fumes. Dozens of which can cause cancer.

A thrilling victory

Earlier this year MPs voted to ban smoking in cars with children thanks to the passionate work of the BLF, and the support of people like you and me.

I've just started studying politics at college and having campaigned on this issue for years. I watched live on the parliament channel as the result of the vote came in - it was thrilling.

Five years after that BLF event at my local hospital, the ban comes into place from 1 October this year. Most people who have smoked when they’re in a car with a child will probably think twice in future. And those who are sceptical should consider the rationale behind the decision and realise that the ban is in place for a very important reason: the dangers of second hand smoke should not be underestimated.

I'm really thankful to everyone who has spend years campaigning for this. It will protect hundreds of thousands of children. I'm sure that future generations will look back on this and think of it as a monumental step forward for our health.

The ban on smoking in cars with children in England and Wales will come into effect 1 October 2015. Find out what you need to know.

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30 September 2015