Smokers in Shropshire are being given one more reason to quit, as a new Government law that came into force today (Thursday 1 October 2015) makes it illegal for anyone to smoke in vehicles with children present.
The new law is designed to help protect children from the dangers of secondhand smoke. Under the ban both the driver and the smoker can be fined £50 if anyone smokes in a vehicle with a person who is under 18.
Smoking just a single cigarette in a vehicle exposes children to high levels of air pollutants and cancer-causing chemicals like arsenic, formaldehyde and tar, and people often wrongly assume that opening a window, or letting in fresh air, will lessen the damage.
A recent survey revealed that ending smoking in cars with children is supported by 85% of adults from West Midlands households with under 18s (ASH YouGov Smokefree GB Survey 2015).
Despite what people might think, opening the car windows does not remove the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. The experiment showed that even with the window open, levels of dangerous chemicals were more than 100 times higher than recommended safety guidelines.
When the windows were closed and the fan on, levels of chemicals were more than 200 times higher than safety guidelines. Furthermore, the amount of the poisonous gas Carbon Monoxide (CO) was two to three times higher than on a busy road at rush hour.
Linda Offord, programme lead – tobacco control at ip&e’s Help2Change, said:-
“Todays legislation is a landmark in protecting children from secondhand smoke, and we hope that all smokers, particularly drivers and parents, will use the change in law as an opportunity to take the first steps towards quitting. With the introduction of the law coinciding with the start of Stoptober, there is no better time to quit and take advantage of the free support on offer.”
It is estimated that there are currently almost 48,000 smokers in Shropshire.
Smokers wishing to quit are encouraged to take part in Stoptober, the country’s 28-day mass quit attempt developed by Public Health England, which also begins today. Those taking part will receive free and exclusive support every step of the way from top comedians Bill Bailey, Al Murray, Shappi Khorsandi and Rhod Gilbert. Stoptober is based on research that by stopping smoking for 28 days you are five times more likely to stop for good.
Karen Calder, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for health, and Chair of Shropshire’s Health and Well-being Board, said:
“As a previous smoker myself, I know how difficult that first step can be to becoming smokefree. Stoptober is a great way to help smokers on their journey to stop smoking. With the new law coming into effect today, this time could be a great opportunity for those who are wanting to kick the habit, to seek advice and help with their local stop smoking service. If you’re not ready yet, then please consider the health of your child and avoid smoking in the car when they’re present.”
ip&e’s Help2Change stop smoking service Help2Quit can also offer face-to-face advice and support and provide you with tailored advice and hints and tips on how to quit. The local stop smoking service offers free support delivered by stop smoking specialists – including practice nurse and pharmacists– that really works. Help2Quit has been helping people to quit for the last 17 years and has seen around 85,000 clients in that time.
The service is available in almost all GP surgeries in Shropshire and is also provided in many pharmacies, community venues, hospitals and selected supermarkets.
For more information about quitting smoking in Shropshire call Help2Quit on 0345 678 9025 (Monday-Saturday 8am-8pm) or visit www.healthyshropshire.co.uk.
To sign up to the nation’s biggest mass quit attempt and the thousands of people all quitting together, search Stoptober online or visit http://smokefree.nhs.uk/stoptober.