The proposal to ban smoking in cars carrying children is a very welcome one indeed.
As mouth cancer campaigners, the British Dental Health Foundation believe the consultation put forward by the Department of Health will protect millions of children exposed to the risks of second-hand smoking, one of which is mouth cancer.
The Department of Health estimates approximately three million children under the age of 18 are exposed to second-hand smoke in cars. If the proposals become law, it could help to protect 2.7 million children and help to save the NHS up to £65.9m on treating tobacco-related diseases.
Earlier this year Parliament voted in favour of introducing legislation to make cars carrying children smoke free. The evidence presented highlights the need for the legislation to be implemented sooner rather than later.
Second-hand smoke is a very serious problem. There are no safe levels of exposure, and children are particularly vulnerable. Experts believe second-hand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, so it is a no-brainer to introduce legislation to protect children.
Banning smoking in private cars is another positive step in the attempt to curb the increasing incidence rates of mouth cancer and the general improvement in oral health. Smoking is the single biggest cause of mouth cancer in the UK, while second hand smoking has also been linked to the disease. This proposal can only have a positive benefit for both drivers and passengers – especially children.
As incidence rates are forecast to hit 60,000 in the next decade, we need to find ways to reduce the alarming growth in mouth cancer. Smoking and tobacco use is the leading cause of mouth cancer. Even though the number of people smoking is falling, around one in five people stick with the habit.
By further limiting the amount of exposure young children have to second-hand smoke, hopefully we will see continued improvements in children’s oral health figures, as well as a reduction in the number of mouth cancer cases.