*This is a Public Health England Press Release*
Smokers in the South East are being given one more reason to quit as new government laws come into force today which makes it illegal for anyone to smoke in vehicles with children present.
The new law is designed to help protect children from the South East and the rest of the country 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.
A recent survey revealed that ending smoking in cars with children is supported by 86% of adults from South East (ASH YouGov Smokefree GB Survey 2015).
Public Health England with Newcastle University and Fresh Smoke Free North East, conducted a new experiment to highlight the dangers of exposure to secondhand smoke in vehicles. This tested the levels of dangerous chemicals (fine particles known as PM2.5) to which children can be exposed in the back seat of a car when a driver is smoking.
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.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer said:
“This legislation is a landmark in protecting our children from secondhand smoke. 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.
“I hope that all smokers, but particularly drivers and parents, will use the change in law as an opportunity to take the first steps towards quitting. With the laws coinciding with the start of Stoptober, there is no better time to quit and take advantage of the free support on offer.”
Nigel Acheson, lead for Cancer and Medical Director for NHS England’s South Region said:
“Protecting children’s health is a priority. Second hand smoke can cause respiratory infections, asthma, bacterial meningitis and cot death as well as cancer. Giving up smoking is good for parents as well as children and this month there is a lot of help for people who want to give up.”
Kate King-Hicks, Health and Well Being Programme Lead at PHE South East Centre said:
“Over 80% of secondhand smoke is invisible and odourless. Many parents aren’t aware of the high levels of dangerous chemicals that their children are subjected to if they smoke near them, especially in enclosed spaces. This new experiment unearths shocking data, reinforcing that smoking in vehicles with a child is never safe. Even with the window down you are still putting your child at risk of developing serious health conditions.”
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.
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
Notes to Editors
For any further information, please contact:
PHE South East Press Office:
Claudette Malone / Mike McGann
Tel: 01403 214557 / 214556
For further information about the legislation please contact:
Department for Health Press Office
Tel: 020 7210 5703 or 020 7210 4373, Out of hours: 07050 073 581
For further information about the Newcastle University experiment or creative from the Smokefree Cars campaign please contact:
1 Stephen Street, London, W1T 1AL
Tel: 0203 003 6561, Out of hours: 0791 258 3075
1. For more information please contact Smokefree@freuds.com
2. Further materials including photography, filming of the University of Newcastle experiment can be downloaded here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ar4t42oz5rr56sg/AACXPi1wjh9X7RYKRZGESA_Wa?dl=0
3. The experiment showed that in a car with the window open the levels of fine particulate matter peaked at 114 times (2,850 µg/m3) the recommended safety guidelines. When a person driving the car was smoking with the windows closed and the fan on, the level of fine particulate matter peaked at 235 times (5,875 µg/m3) higher than the guidelines.
4. Fine particles (PM2.5) are 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller, and can only be seen with an electron microscope. Produced from all types of combustion, the fine particles in secondhand smoke are a mixture of thousands of chemicals including several major classes of known carcinogens, including benzo[a]pyrenes, aromatic amines, and tobacco-specific nitrosamines. The secondhand smoke also contains nicotine, toxins (e.g. carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide) and irritants such as acrolein.
5. The standard safe daily limit of PM2.5 set by the World Health Organisation is 25 µg/m3 (annual average).
6. The experiment was undertaken using volunteer smoker(s) and that no child was involved.
7. The experiment was conducted by experts at Newcastle University
8. Under the legislation both the driver and the smoker can be fined £50 if anyone smokes in a vehicle with a person who is under 18. The legislation applies to any private vehicle that is enclosed wholly or partly by a roof. A convertible car, or coupe, with the roof completely down and stowed is not enclosed and so isn’t covered by the legislation. But a vehicle with a sunroof open is still enclosed and so the legislation will apply.
9. The legislation also applies to smokers sitting in the open doorway of an enclosed vehicle. The vehicle would of course be stationary in this instance but the legislation applies to both moving and stationary vehicles.
10. The rules apply to motorhomes, campervans and caravans when they are being used as a vehicle but don’t apply when they are being used as living accommodation. For more information please visit: gov.uk/smokefreecars
11. For people who want to sign up to Stoptober, they should search ‘Stoptober’ online
12. Only people who sign up online will benefit and be able to receive the daily personalised support.
13. PHE exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. It does this through advocacy, partnerships, world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, and the delivery of specialist public health services. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. For more information on PHE visit www.gov.uk/phe or follow us on Twitter @PHE_uk
14. Case studies available on request
15. While smoking rates have declined over past decades, smoking is still the biggest cause of preventable illness and premature deaths in the country – accounting for almost 80,000 deaths in England a year. One in every two long-term smokers will die prematurely from a smoking related disease unless they quit
16. For further information about Stoptober 2015, please contact email@example.com
17. ASH/YouGov sample details need to be inserted