Smoking in Cars – What Do We Really Know? 2

We know that tobacco smoke is harmful, particularly for children and for some vulnerable adults, such as those with asthma. And it’s worse when breathing in fumes in a confined space. That’s why ASH Scotland is supporting MSP Jim Hume’s consultation on a proposed Bill to ban smoking in cars carrying children.

Mr Hume, the Liberal Democrat Health spokesman, will be launching a consultation on the idea at the Scottish Parliament on May 28. To help inform the process, ASH Scotland has compiled the latest evidence from scientific studies worldwide, to be clear on what we do and don’t know about tobacco smoke exposure in cars and other vehicles.

We’ve sent a briefing note to MSPs to give them the basic facts and to encourage sufficient support from them for the proposal to be taken forward for scrutiny by the Parliament.

Our analysis highlights a range of worrying issues around smoking in vehicles with children on board…

– International research consistently shows that smoke in vehicles can build up to high levels, even when driving with the windows partially open or with ventilation operating in the car.

– Worryingly, the concentrations of exposure to particulate matter exceed health guidance daily limits for outdoor air quality.

– The most recent research from Scotland, coupled with studies from other comparable countries, suggests that at least 5% of children experience smoking in vehicles, depending on the age of the young person and their socioeconomic status.

– These fumes can and do cause a range of diseases. However smoke-free indoor public places, and other measures, have seen exposure to tobacco smoke drop significantly in recent years.

– Strong ethical arguments also exist for protecting children and vulnerable adults from exposure to health risks where they are unable to take action to protect themselves.

– There is strong public support in Scotland for legislation banning smoking in cars where children under 18 are travelling – over 80%.

ASH Scotland supports moves that minimise exposure to this risky substance and believes that no-one should have to accept breathing tobacco smoke against their will.

Our view is that:

– We need to see widespread awareness-raising work around the impact of smoking in cars.

– We support the idea of legislation as an option if awareness-raising does not show significant results.

– While there is an understandable focus on the welfare of children, tobacco smoke will also impact on anyone else in the car.

See our review in full at



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