McKay welcomes support on new law on smoking in cars

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North Antrim Sinn Fein MLA Daithí McKay has welcomed legislation to ban smoking in cars carrying children.

Assembly members have voted in favour of introducing a ban on smoking in cars carrying children.

The proposal was made by Sinn Fein as an amendment to the Health Bill currently progressing through Stormont.

Health Minister Simon Hamilton said he supported the smoking ban but did not expect it to become law until early 2017.

Mr McKay commented afterwards: “Tobacco kills half of its long term users, that is between six and seven people a day here, 2,300 people a year.

“A recent study highlighted that the concentration of toxins in a smoke filled vehicle could be up to 11 times greater than a smoky bar.

“Children are particularly vulnerable as they are still developing physically. In evidence to the committee the BMA highlighted how children breathe more rapidly and absorb more pollutants,” said Mr McKay.

He added: “Children exposed to second hand smoke in vehicles are at a greater risk of asthma and of taking up smoking in adolescence.

“We have witnessed high compliance rates for smoke free legislation. However its success can be greatly assisted by a public awareness campaign. We also need a long term sustained comprehensive tobacco control strategy that looks at all the influences, curtails the tobacco industry, helps people to stop smoking, and protects children and others from second hand smoke.”