Four out of five adults want to see a ban introduced in Wales on smoking in cars carrying children. That’s the strong message from the Welsh public in results released today by public health charity ASH Wales.

The charity is urging the Welsh Government to introduce such a ban to protect children from the dangers of secondhand smoke ahead of next week’s announcement of their legislative programme.

ASH Wales Chief Executive Tanya Buchanan said: “We know that children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke with exposure increasing their risk of asthma and other respiratory diseases. Each year, children’s exposure to secondhand smoke generates over 300,000 UK GP consultations, 9,500 hospital admissions, and costs the NHS about £23.3 million.

Our research shows that the overwhelming majority of Welsh adults agree that smoking should be banned in cars carrying children younger than 18 years of age. We now need the Welsh Government to listen to the public and implement a ban along with a public health campaign to highlight the dangers.”

Research by the British Lung Foundation found that 51% of 8 to 15 year-olds have been exposed to cigarette smoke in a car and over a third of children with a parent who smokes reported that the parent smokes in the car while the child is a passenger.

The campaign is being supported by members of the Wales Tobacco Control Alliance. Chris Mulholland from the British Lung Foundation Wales commented: “Today’s results show yet again that the public wants to see government action to protect our children from smoke in cars. Poll after poll shows very strong public support for this particular measure.

"Air quality in a car where someone is smoking, even with the windows open, is often worse than in a smoky pub. We should be protecting our children, not forcing them to smoke. This is another opportunity for Wales to lead, as we did when the Assembly voted to ban smoking in public places, with support from all parties.

"The evidence of harm to children and support from the public could hardly be clearer. We want to see all parties in Wales move quickly from debate to action, and support a ban on smoking in cars with children.”

Delyth Lloyd, Public Affairs Manager for British Heart Foundation (BHF) Cymru said: “All parents want the best for their children yet many are making their kids breathe a toxic fog of tobacco fumes when smoking in cars, which only damages their health. The Welsh Government should now look at all options available to best protect children including awareness campaigns, supporting parents to quit smoking and possible legislation. The tragedy of passive smoking is the lives cut short or ruined through ill-health as a result of someone else’s deadly habit.”